Parliamentary elections to take place in Algeria

Wed 3 May 2017

Parliamentary elections to take place in Algeria

Tomorrow, on the 4th of May, Algerians will go to the polls to elect members to the People’s National Assembly, the country’s lower house. They will also be able to vote for members of municipal and state councils, who will in turn elect two-thirds of the members of the upper house, the Council of the Nation. Seats will be allocated proportionally with a minimum threshold of 5 percent for the lower house and 7 percent for the upper house.

The National Liberation Front (FLN), known for its struggle against French colonial rule, is expected to become the biggest party in the parliamentary elections. The socialist party has been at the heart of power since  Algeria’s independence from France in 1962. In 2012 the FLN, party of current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, won 208 of the national assembly's 462 seats and formed a government with the National Democratic Rally (RDN). The RDN, led by former prime minister Ahmed Ouyahia, was the second biggest party with 68 seats. The FLN and pro-government RDN are expected to retain their majority in parliament.

Constitutional reforms

These elections will be the first since the Algerian Parliament adopted constitutional amendments in February 2016. President Bouteflika, who is currently serving his fourth presidential term, wants to reform the country’s military-dominated political system. Under the new constitution the office of president is limited to two terms, and more power is delegated to the prime minister and opposition. A majority of parliament has to approve the appointment of a prime minister, and parties are given more rights to question the government. The opposition and many legal experts however say it is merely a symbolic act as the balance of powers will not be significantly altered; the president remains very powerful and keeps the right to appoint the judges and the heads of the Supreme Court and the Constitutional Council.

Contending parties

On the 4th of May more than 23 million Algerians will be able to vote for 50 different political parties and a few independents. Several Islamist parties have formed alliances, hoping to regain ground after a big loss of seats in the 2012 elections. Prominent parties El Binaa, the Front for Justice and Development (FJD) and Ennahda said in December they would form a “strategic” alliance for the election. The Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), which has links to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Front for Change, are reportedly also joining forces. Former minister Amar Ghoul will compete with the new Islamist party The Rally for Hope in Algeria (TAJ).

Among the secular parties the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), the Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) and The Workers’ Party (PT) are the biggest contenders.

Sources: Aljazeera 1, Aljazeera 2, BBC, News24, Reuters, The Cairo Overview