Arab Spring set for watershed moment as Tunisia goes to the polls

Islamists set for big gains in move that may roll back hard-won secularism, women's rights
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Tunisia is preparing for democratic elections following years of autocratic leadership. The election will take place on October 23 this year, and will be the first election campaign since the uprising in January. (AFP/Getty Images)
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\nThe first free elections in the country's history will take place just nine months after the revolution, which toppled former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked a wave of regional demonstrations known \nas the 'Arab Spring'. (AFP/Getty Images)
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As many as 110 parties are taking part in this month's elections, with running candidates agreeing that the assembly will sit for one year. According to Reuters, an independent committee set up by Tunisia's caretaker government to oversee the poll said nearly 11,000 candidates would contest 218 seats in the assembly. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Nejib Chebbi (L) is the head and founder of Tunisia's Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). The party's general secretary Maya Jribi (L) flashes a victory sign, as they greet supporters at an election campaign meeting in Tunis, on October 17, 2011. The party pledges a pro-business stance, better social services and separation of politics from religion. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Despite the high stakes, voter interest is low in a complex electoral landscape. Many Tunisians are thought to be worried about how to make their choice, after decades of widely criticized polls won by Ben Ali.(AFP/Getty Images)
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Violent protests have erupted over delays in holding the poll. The interior ministry has since said that ten thousand extra policemen will join the police in Tunisia to ensure the elections run smoothly. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Nejib Chebbi, head and founder of Tunisia's Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) speaks during an election campaign meeting in Tunis, on October 17, 2011. However, Ennahdha, an Islamic party legalized only six months ago, is thought to be the front-runner in the vote to choose an assembly to write a new constitution. (AFP/Getty Images)
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A poll by Paris-based OpinionWay carried out September said 25 percent of respondents were likely to vote for Ennahdha, 16 percent for the PDP and 14 percent for Ettakatol, a similar non-Islamist party. (AFP/Getty Images)
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The election has the potential to set an example for post-revolutionary countries Egypt and Libya, in addition to monarchies such as Morocco and Jordan, as democracy becomes more acceptable. Ennahdha has said iit won’t impose its views on what is now the most secular country in the region. (AFP/Getty Images)
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Hands and ballot box is pictured during a test vote at a polling station in Tunis on October 16, 2011. Tunisia's electoral commission ran a test vote which it declared a success one week before historic elections in the country that launched the Arab Spring revolts. The ISIE election body chose La Fayette polling station in central Tunis for the dry run. (AFP/Getty Images)