September 15, Images From the Fall of a System

Sunday, September 15. Candidates, campaign teams, and activists are prepared for a long day. As the hours pass by and the sun begins to set, the mood in all but two campaign headquarters drops; the political newcomers emerge. A visual account of the day that saw the fall of a system, from 8:00 am to 11:00 pm.
Written by | 19 September 2019 | 20 minutes

8H - The departure

In La Marsa, a northern suburb of Tunis, Abdelfattah Mourou, Ennahdha's presidential candidate, was among the first voters to go to his assigned polling station. At around 8 am, with a smile on his face, he arrived to the Taïeb Mhiri school with his wife, children and grandchildren.

La Marsa, Tunis. 8h. Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat d’Ennahdha à l’élection présidentielle, attendra près d’une heure avant de pouvoir voter à l’école Taïeb Mhiri. Les assesseur·es d’une partie des bureaux sont arrivé·es en retard. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

9H

As with around 30% of the country's polling stations, Mourou’s did not open on time and he cast his vote after an hour of waiting. 

La Marsa, Tunis. 9h. Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat d’Ennahdha à l’élection présidentielle, a voté le matin tôt, accompagné de sa femme, ses enfants et ses petits-enfants. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

La Marsa, Tunis. Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat d’Ennahdha à l’élection présidentielle, à la sortie du bureau de vote. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

Meanwhile, a few dozen meters away, the crowd buzzed and the cameras shuttered as Youssef Chahed arrived, accompanied by his wife. On his way to the school where he was registered to vote, wearing a suit without a tie, the then-head of government looked confident and exchanged a few words with the passers-by.

La Marsa, Tunis. 9h. Youssef Chahed, chef du gouvernement et candidat de Tahya Tounes à l’élection présidentielle s’apprête à voter en compagnie de sa femme. Crédit photo : Mohamed Klaii, Artriprod, pour Inkyfada.

But Chahed did not waste time. After voting, he answered a few questions from journalists and left. So did Slim Azzabi, his campaign manager and general secretary of the party. The latter voted discreetly in another school in the city. The two men only reappeared later in the evening for Chahed to announce his defeat under the haggard gaze of his right-hand man.

La Marsa, Tunis. Youssef Chahed, chef du gouvernement et candidat de Tahya Tounes à l’élection présidentielle, dans son bureau de vote entouré de nombreux·ses journalistes. Crédit photo : Mohamed Klaii, Artriprod, pour Inkyfada.

10H

La Marsa, Tunis. 10h. Slim Azzabi, secrétaire général de Tahya Tounes et directeur de campagne de Youssef Chahed a voté discrètement, en famille. Crédit photo : Mohamed Klaii, Artriprod, pour Inkyfada.

At Abir Moussi's headquarters, there was no rush. Her portrait sat on a chest of drawers in the main room. The sofas and office chairs were empty. The campaign team had gone out, while waiting for the arrival of the candidate of the Free Destourian Party (heir to some fringes of the RCD, Ben Ali's dissolved party). She arrived in the early afternoon.

La Marsa, Tunis. Dans la matinée, au quartier général de Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez, pour Inkyfada.

Meanwhile, Abdelfattah Mourou, the rebellious child of the Islamist movement Ennahdha, returned home to enjoy a moment of calm with his family. In a richly furnished living room, he refused to make any statements, so as to not break the electoral silence. He only returned to his campaign headquarters after the polls closed, despite the disappointing results.

La Marsa, Tunis. Après avoir voté, Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat d’Ennahdha à l’élection présidentielle, est retourné chez lui, entouré de sa famille et de ses quelque 20.000 pièces de collection. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

La Marsa, Tunis. Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat d’Ennahdha à l’élection présidentielle, en compagnie de sa femme. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

A few kilometres away, in the Berges du Lac primary school, Salwa Smaoui, the wife of Nabil Karoui, leader and presidential candidate for the Qalb Tounes, was ready to cast her vote. Smaoui was wearing a heart-shaped pendant, reflecting the name of her husband’s party, meaning the "Heart of Tunisia." 

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. 10h50. Salwa Smaoui, épouse de Nabil Karoui, candidat de Qalb Tounes à l’élection présidentielle, dans son bureau de vote. Crédit photo : Augustin Le Gall pour Inkyfada.

Despite being one of the favorites in the presidential election, Karoui was not able to vote. He was held in the Mornaguia prison from August 23, 2019, accused of tax evasion and money laundering. The party and the candidate's wife ran his campaign without him.

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. Salwa Smaoui, épouse de Nabil Karoui, candidat de Qalb Tounes à l’élection présidentielle, à la sortie du bureau de vote. Crédit photo : Augustin Le Gall pour Inkyfada.

11H

Less than two hours away, near his family home in Sousse, the Minister of Defence took advantage of his last day of electoral leave to go to the polls. This would be the last appearance of the independent candidate, who was supported by several political parties, including Nidaa Tounes and Afek Tounes. In Tunis, in a house in Berges du Lac, his campaign team would endure the anguish of a long day of waiting, to be rewarded only with the confirmation of defeat.

Sousse. 11h. Abdelkarim Zbidi, ministre de la Défense et candidat indépendant à l’élection présidentielle s’apprête à voter. Crédit photo :  Saif Fradj pour Inkyfada.

Sousse. Abdelkarim Zbidi, Minister of Defence and independent candidate in the presidential election, after voting. Photo credit. Saif Fradj for Inkyfada.

Back to Ouardia in the southern suburbs of Tunis, Mohamed and Samia Abbou were about to leave their family home to take part in the election. Despite the combative posture, Mohamed Abbou, the candidate of the “Democratic Current” party, would fail to deliver a substantial political blow by the end of his first presidential race.

Ouardia, Tunis. 11h30. Mohamed Abbou, the candidate of the Democratic Current, leaves his home with his wife, Samia Abbou, and some members of his family to go to the polling station. Photo credit: Hammadi Lassoued for Inkyfada.

Kaïs Saïed sat upright behind his desk. Hanging on the wall was a poster illustrating a green map of Tunisia, supporting two raised arms holding a scale, symbolizing justice. Under the map is the campaign slogan of this independent and atypical candidate: "The people want;" a slogan that was widely chanted in the demonstrations after the outbreak of the revolution. An hour earlier, Kaïs Saïed was on his way to his polling station in Ennasr, near his home, accompanied by his brother, his wife, and two agents of the presidential guard providing him with security. 

Ibn Khaldoun Street, Tunis. 11h45. After voting at Ennasr 2, near his home, Kaïs Saïed, independent candidate for the presidential election, at his headquarters. Image credit: Malek Khadhraoui for Inkyfada.

A small apartment on Ibn Khaldoun Street in the center of Tunis was used as Saïed’s campaign headquarters. His supporters and other "volunteers" had yet to arrive. The living room was modestly furnished with plastic tables and chairs and a television hanging on the wall. 

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. Un des agents de la garde présidentielle qui assure la sécurité de Kaïs Saïed au quartier général du candidat. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

12H

Nabil Karoui was prosecuted in court and remanded in custody a week before the official start of the election campaign. The court then rejected his lawyers' requests for release. Karoui claims to have gone on a hunger strike to demand his right to vote. 

Berges du Lac, Tunis. The office of Nabil Karoui, in the headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party. Karoui has been in pre-trial detention at the Mornaguia prison since August 23, 2019. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Mohamed and Samia Abbou exercised their right to vote in front of the cameras, in a school in their neighborhood. "Despite all the political fundings and partisan media dominating the last two weeks and even before, no one can predict the results of these elections. Whatever the result, we are proud of the campaign we ran," said Mohamed Abbou. However, a few hours later, he could not hide his disappointment and bitterness at the emerging results that credited him with only 4% of the vote.

Ouardia, Tunis. 12h. Mohamed Abbou, candidate of the Democratic Current in the presidential election, voted while surrounded by journalists and photographers. Photo credit: Hammadi Lassoued for Inkyfada.

"Some say Mohamed Abbou has revised his ideology; this is not at all true. He was just misunderstood. He is progressive and defends human rights in their universality. Only the media and his detractors present him as a conservative, which he is not," Samia Abbou reassured. But it was already too late. 

Ouardia, Tunis. Samia Abbou, députée Courant démocrate à l’Assemblée des représentants du peuple (ARP) a voté en même temps que son époux, Mohamed Abbou, candidat du même parti à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

At the headquarters, organizers with the Democratic Current stayed busy. It was necessary to monitor the voting process, identify trends, and centralize the information reported by the hundreds of observers scattered across the country. 

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. Quartier général du Courant démocrate, parti de Mohamed Abbou, candidat à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

14H -The absent

In his party's headquarters, Nabil Karoui was the major absentee. Everywhere, stickers and posters were reminding people of the candidate's ‘presence.’ 

Berges du Lac, Tunis. Headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party in the absence of its presidential candidate, Nabil Karoui, who is imprisoned in the La Mornaguia prison since August 23, 2019. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

From 14h, it became apparent that a considerable number of voters were abstaining from voting. At midday, the estimated 16% turnout at the national level did not materialize and the uncertainty about the outcome of the election grew. 

La Marsa, Tunis. Au quartier général de Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle. Sur l’écran de télévision, l'ISIE, l’Instance en charge de l’organisation des élections, communique les taux de participation à la mi-journée. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez pour Inkyfada.

15H

At Mohamed Abbou's HQ, activists tried to bring calm to an increasingly tense atmosphere. In addition to the inflow of predictions, information, and stories from the field, they tried to lighten the mood while waiting for the outcome. "Anyway, tonight we're going to party! We're going to celebrate the efforts of loyal volunteers, our successes in terms of organization, communication and above all the political maturity we've managed to acquire," said Siwar, a student and party activist since 2014. 

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. L’équipe de campagne de Mohamed Abbou, candidat du Courant démocrate à l’élection présidentielle, dans la salle d’opération de l’observation des élections du parti. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

Because she was allocated the number 3 on the ballot papers, Abir Moussi decided to vote at 3pm. However, when the time came, she arrived instead at her headquarters, informing her team members that she had been asked to withdraw in favor of Abdelkarim Zbidi. They discussed the new development and got slightly agitated. But, in the end, they had to head to the polling station. The candidate was already late.

El Menzah 1, Tunis. 15h30. Abir Moussi, candidate of the Free Destourian Party for the presidential election, is accompanied by her team and her daughters to the polling station from the party headquarters in La Marsa. Photo credit: Khaldoun Okkez for Inkyfada.

At the same time, Facebook pages favorable to Abdelkarim Zbidi started sponsoring posts warning that Kaïs Saïed and Nabil Karoui were reportedly topping the polls. There were only a few hours left to mobilize. 

El Menzah 1, Tunis. Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle a voté, entourée de militant·es du parti et de sympathisant·es. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez pour Inkyfada.

16H

Faces were sullen at the headquarters of Youssef Chahed the then-head of government and the candidate of Tahya Tounes. The reception was cold and hostile; journalists were not welcome and photos were not allowed. A few people paced around on their phones without much interaction between them. "Does anyone know the turnout?" one man asked. "20%," replied another, without looking up.  

Zone industrielle de Charguia, Tunis. L’entrée déserte du quartier général de Tahya Tounes, parti de Youssef Chahed, candidat à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Mohamed Klaii, Artriprod, pour Inkyfada.

Lafayette, Tunis. Locaux de Tahya Tounes, parti de Youssef Chahed, candidat à l’élection présidentielle. Depuis 20 jours, un groupe de jeunes de Kasserine observe un sit-in sur les marches de l’immeuble, réclamant que le plan contre le chômage décidé en 2016 soit totalement mis en oeuvre. Crédit photo: Haïfa Mzalouat pour Inkyfada.

Mohamed Abbou joined the organizers of his party at his campaign headquarters. Rumors were spreading about the possible victory of Kaïs Saïed and Nabil Karoui. On television, Nabil Baffoun, the ISIE president, warns, in a serious tone, about the risk of a massive abstention. "Go and vote to save the revolution and the democratic process," he urged. 

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. Au QG du Courant démocrate, parti de Mohamed Abbou, deux militants s’inquiètent du faible taux de participation à moins de deux heures de la fermeture des bureaux de vote. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

"Young people no longer have any confidence in the political class as a whole. This mistrust began just after the 2014 elections and will continue as long as those who govern persist in ignoring social and economic demands," said Motez, a young party activist.

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. La tension monte au QG de Mohamed Abbou, candidat du Courant démocrate à l’élection présidentielle avant la fermeture des bureaux de vote. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

17H - The doubt

Fatma, a businesswoman and a member of the logistics committee since 2017, was not as lenient. "I am really angry! Tunisians are either passive and not interested in politics or make purely emotional choices. What do they know about Kaïs Saïed, Abdelkarim Zbidi, or Nabil Karoui? Nothing! Saïed, for example, is just a phenomenon created by the media, which has produced the image of an intellectual who specializes in the Constitution ... I think we deserve the political class that governs us," she said. 

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. Mohamed Abbou, candidat du Courant démocrate à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

Abir Moussi's team were just as worried. The atmosphere was tense and the activists were very nervous. Moussi tried to grasp the estimates that were reaching her. 

La Marsa, Tunis. 17h56. Au QG de Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle, la tension monte à quelques minutes de la fermeture des bureaux de vote. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez pour Inkyfada.

18H

"We thought we were going to the second round!"

La Marsa, Tunis. Après la fermeture des bureaux de vote. Au QG de Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle, les premières tendances remontent et l’inquiétude grandit. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez pour Inkyfada.

19H

Responding to the emerging trends and results communicated by party representatives at the polling stations, Abir Moussi called an emergency meeting. Her team was overcome with sadness and disbelief.

La Marsa, Tunis. Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle, reçoit les premiers résultats. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez pour Inkyfada.

La Marsa, Tunis. Abir Moussi, candidate du Parti destourien libre à l’élection présidentielle, a reçu les résultats des sondages avant leur annonce. Elle ne fera pas de déclaration et convoque une réunion à huis clos quelques instants plus tard. Crédit photo : Khaldoun Okkez.

In the small apartment on Ibn Khaldun Street, a dozen organizers joined Kaïs Saïed and waited for the results. The announcement was scheduled for 8pm. The candidate's brother was confident but did not wish to speculate before any confirmation. "I hope there was an improvement in the turnout," he said. 

Ibn Khaldoun Street, Tunis. Kaïs Saïed's campaign team is waiting for the announcement of the results, scheduled for 8pm. Photo credit: Malek Khadhraoui for Inkyfada.

Sonia, a former student of Kaïs Saïed, and now a volunteer, kept receiving phone calls from young volunteers in the regions. "I love you, my dear," she said to each of them, before hanging up. 

"The people you see here are part of the campaign team. They are from different generations, both students and teachers. I don't have a particular role because there's no division between us. We don't have a campaign manager or a spokesperson... Everyone does what they can. We've been driving around the country in two cars, sleeping in youth centers, hostels, and sometimes even in people's homes," said Wissem, another volunteer.

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. L’équipe de campagne de Kaïs Saïed au QG du candidat indépendant à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

At Nabil Karoui's headquarters, the atmosphere is noticeably different. The supporters of Qalb Tounes are already celebrating their candidate’s victory, even before the announcement of the results. In second position behind Kaïs Saïed, Karoui would move on to the second round of the presidential election. 

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, Nabil Karoui's campaign team expected their candidate to advance to the second round. They started celebrating before the announcement of the results. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, Nabil Karoui's campaign team welcomes the expected success of their candidate in the presidential elections. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. Despite the absence of Nabil Karoui, in detention since August 23, 2019, Qalb Tounes supporters celebrate their success in the first round of the presidential elections. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

But at the campaign headquarters of Abdelfattah Mourou, the Ennahdha candidate, the signals were mixed. The preliminary estimates of the polling institutes and the feedback from the field contradicted each other. At this point, Abdelfattah Mourou could still have a chance to win over Nabil Karoui. The party of Rached Ghannouchi - who arrived with flowers and sweets - was not yet defeated. The information circulating on social networks were contradictory. 

El Manar 2. 19h20. Arrivée de Rached Ghannouchi, président d’Ennahdha, au siège de la campagne d’Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat du parti à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

Despite the disappointing forecasts, the Democratic Current organizers came out in large numbers to the campaign headquarters. "We are winners in any case! The victory belongs to our solidarity and dedication," said Samia Abbou. "Rumors are circulating about Chahed's escape," she joked, trying to lighten the mood. 

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. Mohamed Abbou, candidat du Courant démocrate à l’élection présidentielle entouré de militantes du parti, ne cache pas sa déception. Crédit photo: Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

Abbou’s joke would certainly not have gone well at Youssef Chahed’s HQ, where the apparent calm exacerbated the gloom. The media were kept at a distance and only a few people could be seen, quietly discussing the expected results. 

Zone industrielle de Charguia, Tunis. L’équipe de campagne, sur les nerfs, n’autorise personne à accéder au quartier général de Tahya Tounes, parti de Youssef Chahed, candidat à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo: Haïfa Mzalouat, pour Inkyfada.

At Berges du Lac, the campaign team of Abdelkarim Zbidi, former Minister of Defense, was still unaware of the outcome. Rumors were circulating about an apparent one hour extension of polling by ISIE; but not for long. "We only get what we deserve; we're in the second round against Youssef Chahed," a member of the team said regretfully, referring to the fratricidal war between the two camps. "We only have 20 dinars left in the cash box," joked another. Some of them watched television while others stared at their phone screens.  "Shh!" A few moments before the results were announced, there was silence. 

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. Au siège de la campagne de Abdelkarim Zbidi, candidat indépendant à l’élection présidentielle, peu de temps avant l’annonce des résultats des sondages.  Crédit photo : Hortense Lac pour Inkyfada.

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. Abdelkarim Zbidi, candidat indépendant à l’élection présidentielle, n’a pas fait le déplacement au siège de sa campagne. L’équipe et les sympathisant·es attendent les résultats des sondages avec inquiétude. Crédit photo : Abdelkader Tazarki pour Inkyfada.

20H - The announcement

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. 20h. L’équipe de campagne de Kaïs Saïed à l’annonce des résultats des sondages. Leur candidat arrive en tête, devant Nabil Karoui, candidat de Qalb Tounes. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. Portraits of Nabil Karoui are hung by Qalb Tounes organizers in the party headquarters just before the scheduled announcement of results at 8pm. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. À gauche, Ridha El Mekki, plus connu sous le nom de Ridha “Lénine” est un militant connu des mouvements de la gauche radicale tunisienne. Il célèbre la victoire annoncée de son candidat Kaïs Saïed arrivé en tête du premier tour de l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, Nabil Karoui's supporters celebrate in the absence of their candidate. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. À gauche, Ichraf Chebil, magistrate et épouse de Kaïs Saïed, apprend la victoire de son mari, arrivé largement en tête selon les différents sondages. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, the official announcements confirm that Nabil Karoui has come in second place. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. L’institut de sondage Sigma Conseil révèle le nom des deux candidats qui accèderont au second tour de l’élection présidentielle. Kaïs Saïed était alors crédité de 19,5% des votes exprimés, devant Nabil Karoui, crédité de 15,5%. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

The announced results astonished the organizers at the campaign headquarters of Mohamed Abbou. According to estimates, the candidate of the Democratic Current had only 4% of the votes and was in ninth or tenth position. In the industrial zone of Charguia, with empty eyes, Youssef Chahed's supporters were barely reacting. On Ennahdha’s side, the disappointment and internal discussions were kept behind closed doors. 

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. Au QG de Mohamed Abbou, candidat du Courant démocrate à l’élection présidentielle, la tristesse et la déception se lisent sur les visages des militant·es après l’annonce des résultats. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

Zone industrielle de Charguia, Tunis. L’atmosphère est glaciale au QG de Youssef Chahed, candidat de Tahya Tounes à l’élection présidentielle. Ce dernier arrive en cinquième position, loin derrière le duo de tête. Crédit photo : Haïfa Mzalouat, pour Inkyfada.

El Manar 2. Au siège de la campagne d’Abdelfattah Mourou, candidat d’Ennahdha, les estimations des sondages contredisent les remontées des résultats des bureaux de vote réceptionnées par l’équipe de campagne. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. Au siège de la campagne de Abdelkarim Zbidi, candidat indépendant à l’élection présidentielle, les sympathisant·es découvrent les estimations des sondages. Crédit photo : Abdelkader Tazarki pour Inkyfada.

"You must not lose hope! These results should not discourage us. [...] I want us to go back to work as soon as possible and to be frank with the voters, to tell them directly that they made a bad choice. Between a mysterious and seemingly conservative candidate who has no political background and a mafia man who financed his campaign with dirty and laundered money, the conscience of Tunisians is still far from being mature and open to real change," said Mohamed Abbou in front of his supporters. 

Downtown Ariana. Mohamed Abbou, the Democratic Current’s candidate in the presidential election, does not hide his disappointment from the party supporters surrounding him. Photo credit: Hammadi Lassoued for Inkyfada.

Resigning himself to the result of the elections, a member of the campaign team said: "These results are very disappointing for me. I expected twice the number of votes. Abbou was the only candidate clear and sincere about his promises within the prerogatives of the President of the Republic. His approach was far from populism. We worked hard to win the trust of the citizens. Alas! The will of the people was different."

Centre-ville de l’Ariana. Mohamed Abbou, candidat du Courant démocrate à l’élection présidentielle accuse le coup de sa défaite annoncée. Crédit photo : Hammadi Lassoued pour Inkyfada.

Downtown Ariana. Mohamed Abbou, candidate of the Democratic Current in the presidential election, is visibly affected by his announced defeat. Photo credit: Hammadi Lassoued for Inkyfada.

At the campaign headquarters of Abdelkarim Zbidi, some still did not want to express their concern and worry gradually gave way to anger. "This result is wrong! ISIE is still collecting the results! Our political family must come together," said one supporter. 

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. Au siège de la campagne de Abdelkarim Zbidi, les sympathisant·es réalisent la défaite de leur candidat, arrivé en quatrième position derrière Kaïs Saïed, Nabil Karoui et Abdelfattah Mourou. Crédit photo : Abdelkader Tazarki pour Inkyfada.

"We have believed in Kaïs Saïed since 2011. He is the only one who has taken an interest in young people. He is the only one to carry and respect the values of the revolution. We ran a campaign without financial means. The candidate's family collected the money for the candidacy deposit. We spent almost nothing. We are not supported by any businessman or person in power," said a campaign team member of the candidate who topped the polls in the first round of the elections.  

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. Ichraf Chebil, magistrate et épouse de Kaïs Saïed, s’isole pour répondre aux nombreux appels téléphoniques qu’elle reçoit. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

Whether candidates and their campaign teams experienced shock or euphoria from the announced results, the time came for speeches. The organizers from Ibn Khaldoun Street and a few journalists joined Kaïs Saïed in his office to listen to his speech. In Aïn Zaghouan, Salwa Smaoui read a letter from her husband, Nabil Karoui. Samir Dilou, Ennahdha's campaign director, announced their decision to wait for the official results of the ISIE before making a statement. Youssef Chahed arrived late in the evening for a brief statement to the media. He called on his political "family" to come together for the parliamentary elections and to learn from the poll results. At Mohamed Abbou's headquarters, despite the disappointment, some were putting their experience into perspective. "The only positive side of these elections is the blow that was delivered to the former regime. The old RCD machine thought it had the upper hand in the elections. Now we know that not to be the case, at least for a while," said one supporter. Abdelkarim Zbidi and Abir Moussi did not reappear for the rest of the day. 

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. Kaïs Saïed, candidat à l’élection présidentielle, seul dans son bureau après l’annonce de sa victoire. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. Kaïs Saïed, candidat à l’élection présidentielle, embrasse le drapeau tunisien devant les militant·es et journalistes, avant de prononcer un discours. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, polls confirmed Nabil Karoui's position in second place, allowing him to move on to the second round of the presidential election. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

El Manar 2. Au siège de la campagne d’Abdelfattah Mourou. C’est Samir Dilou, directeur de campagne, qui prononce un discours à la place de son candidat, après l’annonce des estimations des sondages. Il déclare souhaiter attendre les résultats officiels de l’ISIE avant de se prononcer sur une éventuelle défaite. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, Salwa Smaoui, Nabil Karoui's wife, closely follows the exit polls and the announced estimates. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. 20h50. Au siège de la campagne de Abdelkarim Zbidi, les sympathisant·es sont toujours sous le choc après l’annonce des résultats. Crédit photo : Abdelkader Tazarki pour Inkyfada.

21H

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. 20h50. Au siège de la campagne de Abdelkarim Zbidi, les sympathisant·es restent incrédules après la défaite de leur candidat arrivé en quatrième position. Crédit photo : Abdelkader Tazarki pour Inkyfada.

Berges du Lac 1, Tunis. 20h50. Au siège de la campagne de Abdelkarim Zbidi, l’inquiétude, le désarroi et la colère s’inscrivent durablement sur les visages des sympathisant·es. Crédit photo : Abdelkader Tazarki pour Inkyfada.

El Manar 2. Rached Ghannouchi, président d’Ennahdha, au siège de la campagne d’Abdelfattah Mourou. Le candidat arrivé en troisième position descend les marches, en arrière-plan, en compagnie de son directeur de campagne. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

El Manar 2. Abdelfattah Mourou et son directeur de campagne, Samir Dilou, après l'annonce des résultats. Crédit photo : Thierry Brésillon pour Inkyfada.

22H

Zone industrielle de Charguia, Tunis. Slim Azzabi, secrétaire général de Tahya Tounes, écoute le discours de Youssef Chahed, après sa défaite à l’élection présidentielle. Crédit photo : Mohamed Klaii, Artriprod, pour Inkyfada.

Zone industrielle de Charguia, Tunis. Youssef Chahed fait une déclaration à la presse, après sa défaite à l’élection présidentielle. Selon les premières estimations, il se place en cinquième position, derrière Kaïs Saïed, Nabil Karoui, Abdelfattah Mourou et Abdelkarim Zbidi. Crédit photo : Mohamed Klaii, Artriprod, pour Inkyfada.

the end

Aïn Zaghouan, Tunis. At the campaign headquarters of the Qalb Tounes party, Salwa Smaoui reads a letter from her husband, Nabil Karoui, who remains in pre-trial detention in the Mornaguia prison. From behind bars, Nabil Karoui reached the second round of the election with more than 15% of the vote. Photo credit: Augustin Le Gall for Inkyfada.

Rue Ibn Khaldoun, Tunis. Après une campagne atypique, sans financement ni parti politique, Kaïs Saïed se qualifie pour le second tour de la présidentielle avec plus de 18% des suffrages exprimés au premier tour. L’expression de son visage reste inchangée. Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

Crédit photo : Malek Khadhraoui pour Inkyfada.

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