Liberal party takes 39 percent of seats in Tunisia elections, Islamists close second

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A liberal party with ties to the deposed regime has taken the most seats in Tunisia's parliamentary elections, leaving the once dominant Islamists running a close second.

The Nida Tunis (Tunis Calls) Party, running on an explicitly anti-Islamist platform, took 85 of the 217 seats in the Tunisian parliament, giving it the right to lead a coalition government.

The election commission said early Thursday that the moderate Islamist Ennahda Party won 69 seats, or nearly 32 percent, of the new parliament, representing a loss of some 23 seats.

Since overthrowing its dictator in 2011 and kicking off the Arab Spring pro-democracy wave, Tunisia has been buffeted by turmoil.

Analysts say voters in Sunday's election punished the Islamists for their uneven record and chose a party with figures from the past regime.