Tunisia’s political outlook looks fraught. Parliamentary elections on 6 October resulted in a fractured parliament consisting of eight parties and 33 independents. Preliminary results show the ‘Muslim Democrat’ Ennadha party came first with 52 seats; media mogul Nabil Karoui’s secular-leaning ‘Heart of Tunisia’ was second with 38. Mr Karoui, who was imprisoned on corruption charges, was only just released on 9 October and goes face to face with ex-constitutional professor Kais Saied in the second round of the presidential elections on 13 October.

Both Ennahda and Heart of Tunisia have ruled out a coalition, but even their combined numbers fall well short of a 109 majority in the 217-member parliament. The next four largest parties have all said they are unwilling to form a coalition with either Ennadha or Heart of Tunisia. If a government can’t be formed, fresh elections could be held next year. The country badly needs a well-functioning government to revamp Tunisia’s struggling economy (MEES, 2 August). (CONTINUED - 156 WORDS)