Tunisia Postpones Election, Possibly Aiding New Parties

CAIRO — The interim Tunisian government on Wednesday postponed the first election since the ouster in January of the former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, citing technical problems for the delay but also inevitably reshuffling Tunisian political dynamics.

The decision, in the nation whose unexpected uprising ignited the revolts sweeping the Arab world, pushes the scheduled vote for a constituent assembly to Oct. 23 from July 24. The deferral is likely to bolster the fortunes of the dozens of new political parties still scrambling to organize, perhaps at the expense of their better established rivals, both liberal and Islamist.

For just that reason, the postponement is also reverberating in Cairo, where many liberals want to push back the first election since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak — now scheduled for September — because they fear that Egypt’s venerable Muslim Brotherhood has a decisive organizing edge.

In Tunisia, both the leading liberal faction, the Progressive Democratic Party, and the main Islamist party, Al Nahda, initially opposed the postponement. They argued that Tunisia needed to move as fast as possible to a more legitimate authority, ending the continuing outbreaks of strikes and demonstrations by workers and young people eager to protect their revolution.



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