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Political Elite Outsider Kais Saied Elected As Tunisia’s President

Political Elite Outsider Kais Saied Elected As Tunisia’s President

Independent candidate Kais Saied holds the Tunisian flag at a press conference after exit polls pointed to victory. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Political outsider and conservative law professor, Kais Saied, was elected on Sunday in Tunisia’s presidential runoff, beating  his rival Nabil Karoui, as reported by local media.

Exit polls showed Kais Saied winning with 77% of the vote compared with 23% for media magnate Nabil Karoui.

Around 90% of 18- to 25-year-olds voted for Saied, according to estimates by the Sigma polling institute, compared with 49.2% of voters over 60.

Saied thanked the country’s young people “for turning a new page” and promised to try to build “a new Tunisia”.

A huge number of people took to the streets of the capital, Tunis, to celebrate Saied’s victory, chanting.“Kais Saied, voice of the people.”

Analysts have called Saied’s victory as a sign Tunisia’s rejection of the status quo, which was seen by the low performance of most political parties who have led the country since 2014, with the exception of pro-Islamic Ennahda.

In a rare television debate on Friday evening, Saied addressed the audience in classical Arabic while his rival spoke in the local dialect, and shunned mass rallies during his campaign.

In addition, has no political party and wants to introduce an experimental form of direct democracy.

As a social conservative, he has defended the death penalty, criminalization of homosexuality and a sexual assault law that punishes unmarried couples who engage in public displays of affection.

The country has faced enormous challenges since the 2011 revolution, with high unemployment and rampant corruption, with both Islamist and secularist forces fighting for control of the country.

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