Tunisia's main secularist party has won a decisive victory against Islamists in parliamentary elections, grabbing 85 seats, or just under 40 percent in the 217-seat assembly, according to official results.

The Nidda Tounes (Tunisia Calls) party bested the ruling Islamist Ennahda party, which secured just 69 seats. Ennahda swept to power in the first such elections after the 2011 'Arab Spring' uprising in the North African country.

The New York Times reports:

"Nidaa Tounes is a new party, formed in 2012 and led by the 87-year-old statesman Beji Caid Essebsi, who gathered businessmen, leftists, trade unionists and former members of the Ben Ali government to provide a counterweight to the Islamists."The party did not win enough seats in ... the assembly to form a government on its own, and it will be forced to seek coalition partners, a process that could mean lengthy negotiations with smaller parties. One new liberal democratic party, Afek Tounes, won 15 seats and is a likely partner. But several other smaller parties that might have been natural coalition partners fared badly in the elections."

As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reported in January, despite the rivalry between secularists and Islamists, the two sides had agreed to sit down and hammer out the country's new constitution.

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