Tunisia’s Islamist Ennahda party, despite winning the recent parliamentary elections with 52 seats, is leading rough negotiations on government formation.
Other parties said they will not join Ennahda unconditionally to form a majority government, and would rather join the opposition.
Ennahda came in first with 52 seats in parliament, followed by the Heart of Tunis with 38 seats. The Democratic Current secured 22 seats and the conservative Dignity Coalition got 21 seats.
Many political leaders have voiced concerns about what they called the dilemma of forming a government in light of the leading party’s inability to obtain a majority — 109 seats out of 217 — and form a government by itself. Ennahda is now forced to seek other alliances to come up with 57 more seats.
Despite the threat of early legislative elections looming over the horizon if Ennahda fails to persuade political partners to ally with it, Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi said that Ennahda will not join an alliance with the Heart of Tunisia because it was tainted by corruption suspicions.
The leader of Heart of Tunisia party, Nabil Karoui was arrested on suspicions of tax evasion and money laundering.
Ghannouchi also ruled out forming an alliance with Destour party, accusing it of being characterized by fascism.
The party leader, however, explained that Ennahda is in need of politicians to form the next government. He also stressed that the challenges facing Tunisia cannot be tackled by one political party.
Ghannouchi reiterated the need to form coalition governments through a policy of partnership based on a joint program to combat corruption and poverty.
According to the Tunisian Constitution, the president is to ask the party or coalition that won the most seats in parliament to form a government; the party or coalition is given a deadline of one month, extendable once.
The article says that if no government is formed within the time limit, the president is to consult with parties, coalitions, and parliamentary groups to select the person most capable of forming a government.
If this effort also fails, the president can call for new elections to be held within 45 to 90 days.