Tunisia's main secular opposition party is claiming a big victory in the country's historic election over the once dominant Islamists.

Partial results from the official election commission are expected to be released throughout the day Monday, but the Nida Tunis (Tunis Calls) party has cited exit polls to say it has won around 80 seats, more than any other party in the 217-member parliament.

The election will produce the nation's first five-year parliament following the country's 2011 Arab Spring revolt.

Nida Tunis includes businessmen, trade unionists and many politicians from the deposed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's government.

It focused its campaign on defeating the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party, which governed Tunisia through a turbulent period marked by economic problems and rising extremism.