Tunisians have mixed feelings about the results of their first truly democratic elections, in which the Ennahda Islamic Party won 41 percent of the vote.
The president of the European Parliament has been in Tunis, meeting the main political leaders, notably the number two figure in Ennahda.
The former political prisoner, a facet of the party’s moderate nature, Jebali Hamadi, is now widely considered a prime ministerial candidate. He told euronews his vision of the new Tunisia.
Hamadi said: “It must be a state of the citizen, a civil state in which all the people enjoy their rights, whatever their political or religious confessional ties. The state must be the guarantor of individual and collective freedoms, and be based on independent institutions.”
Among the observers at the meeting, the EU’s ambassador to Tunisia assessed the changes in the country’s political landscape.
Head of EU Delegation to Tunisia Adrianus Koetsenruijter said: “The big difference is now this is a free country and this is what I have been observing in the past nine months. We can speak to many more people, and also the associations, political leaders, than we could ever before. In many ways it’s also like a new freedom in our relationship, also for the Europeans.”
European Parliament chief Jerzy Buzek congratulated all Tunisia’s parties for their commitment to the democratic process. He described the Ennahda party as a possible new model of Islamic democracy, and said he looked forward to new cooperation between Tunisia and the EU.
Buzek said: “From our side, the European Union, we need something like a success story. And Tunisia could be such a place where our cooperation with Arab countries would bring very good results in the near future.”
A new coalition government of national union will emerge from the elections, involving the major parties alongside Ennahda. Tunisians are confident that they will be able to judge politicians by their acts from now on.
A customer at a Tunis café said: “As long as we are a people who think well and are able to choose our representatives, it’s fine. We don’t actually have a problem with the rise of Islamism. As long as it’s moderate, it’s okay.”
A young woman in a busy downtown district said: “I’m hopeful, not scared! I think things will go all right. Tunisia will still be a very open Mediterranean country, even though I think we need our identity to become our own, we need to have an identity, but that will be built up gradually.”
Senior euronews correspondent in Tunisia Valerie Gauriat reported: “Whatever questions Europe has, these election results are feeding an unprecedented, open debate in Tunisia. Strengthened by its revolution, public opinion is determined not to be disappointed.”