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TUNIS, Tunisia – Tunisians are voting in their first local election since the 2011 Arab Spring revolution, a ballot seen as a crucial step toward consolidating the North African nation's exceptional democracy.
The country's 5.3 million voters will have more than 2,000 candidate lists to choose from in Sunday's vote for city and town councils.
Women make up 49 percent of the candidates. Nearly half are independent from established political parties, and many are totally new to politics.
The Islamist Ennahdha party and the secular Nida Tounes party of President Beji Caid Essebsi are expected to dominate.
But observers say independent candidates could also do well. Many are riding on disillusionment that the leading parties haven't fulfilled the promises of the 2011 revolution, when Tunisian protesters overthrew their longtime strongman and unleashed uprisings around the Arab world.