Elections take place in Algeria amid low turnout

Wed 10 May 2017

Elections take place in Algeria amid low turnout

On the 4th of May parliamentary elections for Algeria’s 462-seat National Assembly took place. The National Liberation Front (FNL), party of current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won 164 seats, a loss of 44 seats compared to the previous elections. It’s government coalition partner, the National Democratic Rally (RDN) won 97 seats, 29 more than in the previous election. The current coalition will thus retains its majority, as many expected.

The opposition remains very fragmented with 26 parties getting 10 or less seats. Among the Islamist parties the Islamist alliance Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP) was the biggest  party, winning 33 seats. The Rally for Hope in Algeria (TAJ), which participated for the first time, was the second biggest Islamist party with 19 seats. The Islamist parties won 67 seats combined, 7 more than in the previous elections. The secular and social democratic parties Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) and Algerian Popular Movement (MPA) won 14 and 13 seats respectively. Of the 462 MP’s elected, 120 are women.

Turnout

Turnout was very low in the North-African country, with only 38 percent of the more than 23 million registered voters casting their vote. In the 2012 turnout was low as well, but slightly higher with 43 percent. Many Algerians distrust the political system which they view as corrupt; the National Assembly is granted only limited powers, while the president holds ultimate power. After accusations emerged in February that candidates payed to have their names added to party lists Algerians became even more sceptical about the fairness of the elections. Furthermore many young Algerians didn’t vote because of the lack of change and reforms implemented and the high youth unemployment rate.

The older Algerians were reportedly more willing to vote as they are uncertain what will happen to the country when the 80-year old president Bouteflika dies. Bouteflika, who has a fragile health and is therefore rarely seen in public, is credited with bringing stability after the civil war of the 1990’s. There is currently no clear successor and many fear that  a handover of power will be accompanied by internal strife.

Allegations of fraud

Dozens of allegations of fraud, and a few hundred irregularities have been reported, despite an independent electoral commission and the presence of nearly 300 observers. Abderrazak Makri, leader of the MSP, also outed allegations of fraud saying his party would have been the biggest party if there hadn’t been any fraud. Elections observers have not yet commented on the accusations of fraud. Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui said the elections were a success.

Sources: Al Jazeera 1, Al Jazeera 2BBC, Interior Ministry Algeria, Middle East Eye, TRT World 1, TRT World 2VOA News