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Tunisia votes in first elections since uprising

Up to 90% of eligible voters are estimated to have cast ballots for a constituent assembly. But many are more worried about paying their bills than drafting a new constitution.

October 23, 2011|By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

"Our bills are too expensive and even when we can pay the electric bill, the lights still don't come on," said Awatif Hannachi, who waited in the women's line threading toward the polling station. "I hope the man who runs the country will be a good man."

That sentiment was echoed by other women, who, after decades of living under Ben Ali, had defined their notion of government as the rule of a single man. They weren't exactly knowledgeable about the role of a constituent assembly and an emerging democracy; their support was for the Islamist party, Nahda.

"Politically things may have improved since the revolution, but it's still a living hell here," said Houssine Youssfi, a driver. "Food. Sugar. Utilities. They're all higher than when Ben Ali was in charge."

He glanced at his neighbors.

"I will not vote," he said. "Nothing will change."

Dressed in a check blazer, his eyes agitated, Kouki edged forward in the voting line.

"I don't really think this election will make my life better," he said, holding up a paper. "I just got this electric bill yesterday."

jeffrey.fleishman@latimes.com

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