Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring began, has held its first national election under its new democratic constitution, and the results are encouraging. Tunisia has two major political parties -- a religious party and a secular party (hey, just like the US), and the vote count so far shows Nidaa Tounes, the secularists, comfortably ahead
. Even better, the leadership of Ennahda, the religious party, gracefully conceded defeat and congratulated the winners
. For democracy to work, it's crucial that the results be accepted as legitimate by the losers. I suppose one could imagine a faction of Ennahda taking to the streets waving teabags, carrying signs in misspelled Arabic, and accusing the head of Nidaa Tounes of being born in Kenya, but probably most Tunisians have too much of a sense of dignity to engage in such antics.
There's still a lot to do. For example, while Tunisia has long been advanced on paper in the field of women's rights (it legalized abortion eight years before Roe v. Wade), the reality has not always kept up
, notably in rural areas. The new constitution endorses gender equality, but it will be up to the government to fully realize that.
Still, there is sometimes good news from this part of the world -- it's not
all ISIS and executions and terrorist attacks. Tunisia serves as an
example to countries further east that it is
possible to have a decent life, by accepting the rules of modernity and keeping the real crazies under control.