This fall, Tunisia will be having its presidential election, which will be the second presidential election to take place since the 2011 revolution (which in turn set off the Arab Spring). Such an election takes place in the aftermath of the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi. Essebsi (who died on July 25) had announced that he would not seek re-election. The election was originally supposed to take place in November, but Essebsi’s death resulted in the election being moved up to September 15. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, then a runoff election will be held no later than November 3.
Details are somewhat sketchy on the number of candidates. Some sources say twenty-six candidates were approved (including two female candidates). Another source claims sixty-nine candidates. Still another source says ninety-eight candidates.
Some of the presidential candidates consist of the following: Youssef Chahed (Tunisia’s Prime Minister and leader of the political party Long Live Tunisia), former Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, Minister of National Defence Abdelkarim Zbidi, Abdel Fattah Mourou (vice-president of the Islamist Party Ennahda), former President Moncef Marzouki, and Nabil Karoui (an entrepreneur and owner of the television network Nessma).
The two female candidates on the ballot consist of former tourism minister Salma Loumi and Abir Moussi (an attorney and president of the Free Destiny Party).
Mounir Baatour (an openly gay lawyer and advocate of LGBT rights) was also a candidate but apparently, his candidacy was rejected by Tunisia’s Electoral Commission.
Meanwhile, another woman has announced that she will enter the race — a twenty-one year-old belly dancer named Nermine Sfar. Sfar stated that if she is elected, she will ban the hijab, impose fines on unfaithful men (as well as fine men who renege on their promises to marry women), and ensuring that women receive two-thirds inheritance (instead of the standard one-third under Islamic custom). She also said that under her rule, Tunisia would be a country of art and freedom, and that people will no longer think of leaving the country.
Sfar said she decided to run due to requests from her fans.
Right now, it is unclear who will win the presidential election in Tunisia, which is currently the only democracy in the Arab world (and the only democracy that emerged from the Arab Spring).
Of course, if Nermine Sfar does win, it could definitely result in major change in the Muslim world.
With the election in less than a month, we will have to wait and see.