World

Symbol of Tunisia's old regime and democracy figure to face off in runoff race for presidency

  • Election officials count votes at a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. A veteran politician from the previous regime that ran on a platform of restoring the prestige of the state took the lead in Tunisia's first free and fair presidential election Sunday, according to exit polls. But there will still likely be a runoff next month. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

    Election officials count votes at a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. A veteran politician from the previous regime that ran on a platform of restoring the prestige of the state took the lead in Tunisia's first free and fair presidential election Sunday, according to exit polls. But there will still likely be a runoff next month. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Election officials count votes at a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. A veteran politician from the previous regime that ran on a platform of restoring the prestige of the state took the lead in Tunisia's first free and fair presidential election Sunday, according to exit polls. But there will still likely be a runoff next month. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

    Election officials count votes at a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. A veteran politician from the previous regime that ran on a platform of restoring the prestige of the state took the lead in Tunisia's first free and fair presidential election Sunday, according to exit polls. But there will still likely be a runoff next month. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)  (The Associated Press)

  • An election official uses a calculator to count votes displayed on a board at a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. A veteran politician from the previous regime that ran on a platform of restoring the prestige of the state took the lead in Tunisia's first free and fair presidential election Sunday, according to exit polls. But there will still likely be a runoff next month. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)

    An election official uses a calculator to count votes displayed on a board at a polling station in Tunis, Tunisia, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. A veteran politician from the previous regime that ran on a platform of restoring the prestige of the state took the lead in Tunisia's first free and fair presidential election Sunday, according to exit polls. But there will still likely be a runoff next month. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi)  (The Associated Press)

Tunisia's independent election commission says election results show that a figure from the old regime will face off against a symbol of the revolution in a runoff for the presidency next month.

The commission said Tuesday that veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi took over 39 percent of the vote against 33 percent for interim president and former rights activist Moncef Marzouki.

The difference between their tallies was less than polls had predicted, meaning the December runoff could be close.

Candidates will now woo those who voted for 20 other candidates, particularly left-wing politician Hamma Hammami, who came third with nearly 8 percent.

Tunisians overthrew their dictator in 2011 and embarked on a rocky transition to democracy. Some voters support the old regime figure as a symbol of stability.