In Tunis

Ursula and I arrived in Tunis today, and the city is abuzz with electoral excitement. On Sunday, Tunisian will hold the first election of the Arab Spring, to appoint a constituent assembly that should not only write the first constitution, but effectively be parliament for a year. I won't give my impressions now, except to say that after several depressing weeks in Egypt this is a breath of fresh air. It makes you wish Egypt had followed the same transition model. One thing that strikes me is that although there are plenty of malcontents — apparently especially in the inner region that started the uprising last December — in Tunis I sensed real optimism.

It's going to be a little messy, for sure. I am now watching the bizarre spectacle on state TV of candidates being given three-minute video spots to explain their platform. This means for for about five hours a day at peak evening viewing time, TV is dominated by little-known personalities from the some 60 of 110 political parties that are participating (in this country of some 10 million.)

The pictures above are from a show at an art gallery, with young artists doing their own provocative versions of get-out-the-vote posters.