Tunisia’s ruling establishment is on course for an entirely predictable landslide as polls closed in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Turnout stood at nearly 75 percent a few hours before voting ended. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is poised to clinch his fourth successive mandate. He has previously won with more than 99 percent of the vote and there is little to suggest this time round will be any different.
His party – the Constitutional Democratic Rally – has ruled for four decades and is almost certain to maintain its grip on parliament. The main opposition group pulled out of the election, declaring Tunisia was a ‘one-party state with a facade of democracy.’ Many credit Ben Ali with modernising the country, bringing economic prosperity and vanquishing the threat from Islamic fundamentalism, but some political parties are banned and human rights groups say media freedom and civil liberties are limited.