After being blocked for years in Tunisia, YouTube will play a pivotal role in this Sunday’s elections, as Tunisians choose a council to write a new constitution for the country.


A Tunisian woman walks past a wall covered with posters of political candidates in Tunis on Thursday. (LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The efforts are a far cry from the Tunisia that existed under President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted by a popular revolt in January. Under Ben Ali, corruption and the repression of civil rights were the norm.

In the Economist’s 2008 Democracy Index , Tunisia was classified as an authoritarian regime, ranking 141 out of 167 countries studied.


(Image via Google)

The site was unblocked on Jan. 13 this year by the president as one of several efforts to stay in office.

Now, 10 months after Ben Ali gave up power, the election promises to be Tunisia’s first taste of democracy.

More than 10,000 candidates from more than 80 parties are participating. For the first the time, the 217-seat assembly will include representatives from the country’s sizable expatriate population, and 18 seats are set aside for Tunisians living abroad.

The Associated Press reports that the stakes “couldn’t be higher” because the election in Tunisia is widely seen as “a litmus test” for growing democracy in the Arab world.

Bennaceur, a Tunisian expat running for the “North France” district seat, says the council candidates are all cognizant of how much this election means for other Arab countries.

“There’s a feeling that if we Tunisians can’t do it, nobody can,” he said.

Below, watch a video a voter submitted to the now free YouTube with his questions for candidates:

In the following video, the Tunisian Electoral Committee encourages all citizens over 18 years of age to get out and vote by registering in their municipal offices, or if abroad, to register at their embassies.

In this English-language translated video, Libyans in Tunisia celebrate another boost to democracy yesterday — Moammar Gaddafi’s death: