Numbered grid patterns are painted on walls all over Tunisia, inviting political parties contesting tomorrow’s parliamentary elections to stick up their posters.

Some of the posters have been torn down, but many of the grids remain empty. Analysts may see the pending elections - a presidential poll is set for the end of November - as another major step toward democracy.

The Islamist Ennahda and the secular Nidaa Tounes are thought to have the most support. But there is increasing concern at the possibility of a low turnout from the electorate of 5mn.

Around 50% voted in 2011, when hopes for a better future were still high. Should the figure drop below that, the next government could lack the legitimacy necessary to make tough decisions.

By comparison with other countries emerging from the Arab Spring, Tunisia is in a relatively good position. The North African country has not slid into chaos like Syria or Yemen or its neighbour Libya.

Where a general has taken over in Egypt, in Tunisia democracy is making progress. A new and modern constitution has been in force since the beginning of the year.

The parliamentary elections tomorrow and the presidential poll on November 23 are intended to complete the democratic process four years after Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, who ran the country from the late 1980s, was toppled from power early in 2011.

This political progress has not been matched on the economic front, however. At least 15% of Tunisians continue to live below the poverty threshold.

And religious zealots are finding supporters among many who have lost hope, for example in the poor quarters on the outskirts of Tunis like Al-Nasim.

Along with the economic crisis, terrorism is the theme that Tunisians discuss most. Newspapers report daily on the dangers posed by the hundreds reported to be returning home from Syria where they are said to have been fighting for the Islamic State group.

The fighting in Libya is threatening to spill over into Tunisia and terrorists based in Algeria have carried out several attacks on Tunisian security forces. The interior minister narrowly escaped an attempted assassination in May.

The murder of two leftist opposition politicians, thought to have been carried out by radicals, led to a political crisis and sparked mass demonstrations. This prompted Ennahda to hand power to a transitional government of independent technocrats.

If Ennahda gains a relative majority of mandates in the 217-member parliament, the quest for a coalition partner is likely to prove difficult and could lead to renewed political deadlock.

It is often said of Tunisians that when there appears to be no way out of difficulties, they manage to achieve a turnaround by combining forces. Many are looking to this character trait to see them through this time round.

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