available languages: english 25, 2011

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The full article was published in The New York Times and can be read here.

By Michael Meyer-Resende

Almost a year after the Arab rebellion was set in motion, the curtain is rising on Act Two of the drama that is transforming the region.

In Tunisia, a big step was taken by holding credible elections. In Egypt, elections should start on Monday, but the country lacks the consensus to follow Tunisia in moving smoothly to the next stage.

While Western audiences are gripped by the performance of Islamic parties, in Egypt it is the technical details of constitutional and electoral arrangements that hold the key to how the drama unfolds.

The script of Tunisia’s transition was crafted back in spring when the country’s interim authorities adopted an electoral system. Initially they were inclined to use a majoritarian system, which would have given a significant bonus in seats for the parties winning most votes.

After much deliberation, however, they threw out previous experience and adopted a proportional system, allowing relatively small, new parties to gain seats while making sure that all regions in the country were represented. By being inclusive, the new system has proved to be appropriate for a post-revolutionary transition.

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