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Arab uprisings paved the way for democratic elections in the Middle East and

North Africa region. Yet countries in this region, except for Tunisia, were not

able to maintain further democratization. Tunisia, regardless of economic

turbulence and security problems, managed to hold its second parliamentary

elections in October 2014, and Ennahda, the party of the popular Islamist

movement, could not keep mass support. A large number of studies have

examined the rise of the Islamist parties as their electoral success in the post-

Arab Uprisings elections by focusing on their organizational strength as well

as their social services. However, the social basis of secular parties in the

region has been overlooked in the democratization literature. In this study,

four competing arguments, religious–secularism cleavage, nostalgia for the

old regime, negative campaign targeting Islamists, and retrospective voting,

are considered as the key determinants of citizens’ party choices. By using

original election survey data, this study asserts that secular Nidaa Tounes

derived its support from secular people, who, at the same time, sympathized

with the old regime and disfavoured Islamists.

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