Tunisian hope and Greek despair: A week in the life of democracy

The first free elections borne from the Arab Spring were held in Tunisia. Over 90% of registered adults voted. EPA/Zacarias Garcia

It has been a tumultuous week in the life and times of democracy in the Mediterranean. Seven days punctuated by joyous hope and its ugly opposite, sullen despair.

The promising news came from Tunisia, hopeful homeland of the Arab uprisings against dictatorship, where a well-organised free and clean election served as a moment of breathtaking joy for millions of citizens.

Designed to produce a caretaker assembly that will re-write the country’s constitution and govern until parliamentary elections are held next year, the turnout was massive. Over 90% of registered adults cast ballots. Consistent with the norms of monitory democracy, the whole process was strictly scrutinised by networks of “electoral observatories”.

Allegations of ballot rigging were rare and, except for local disturbances in the city of Sidi Bouzid, unrest was minimal and violence virtually non-existent.

Historic moment

Voters queued for hours to elect a party committed to protecting the rights of ‘women and men, religious and non religious.’ EPA/STR