Millions of Tunisians head to the polls on Sunday for their first free municipal elections, seen as another milestone on the road to democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Yet while the North African country has been lauded for its transition from decades of dictatorship, the post-revolution authorities have struggled to improve living standards and tackle corruption. Observers expect a high abstention rate in the polls, which come seven years after mass protests toppled the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisians who had high hopes after the revolution have been left demoralized in the face of high inflation, stubborn unemployment and arrangements between political parties which have hindered democratic debate at the national level. The country was also hit by a wave of protest at the start of the year, over the government's new austerity budget.
After being postponed four times, the one-round local elections will begin at 8 am (0700 GMT) on Sunday. Around 5 million voters are eligible to vote, with about 57,000 candidates standing across 350 municipalities.
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