Algerians head to the polls today for the parliamentary elections. President Tebboune hopes this will finally bring the country some peace; Everyone is encouraged to vote.
The divided opposition says it is boycotting the elections. Although thousands of candidates are vying for more than 400 seats, they say there is very little to choose from today.
“This election is a farce, a democratic pretext. The regime is looking for legitimacy and the ballot box is an attempt to generate this legitimacy,” said Dalia Ghanem, an Algerian expert at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.
Elections ahead of schedule
The elections were not actually due to take place until 2022, but were presented by President Tebboune in response to the ongoing demonstrations. Tebboune himself talks about the beginning of a “new Algeria”, but many Algerians do not trust this; They are convinced that the military will eventually retain most of the power.
Ghanem: “The Algerians are therefore divided whether they will vote or not. One sees it as an opportunity to make changes from within, and the other believes that participation gives a democratic pretext for order and order.” She expects a low turnout, while state television will show pictures of entire polling stations.
This is the first parliamentary elections since former President Bouteflika resigned in 2019 under pressure from millions of protesters. After Bouteflika indicated his desire to run for a fifth term, protests erupted, organized by the Hirak. Bouteflika was a member of the ruling National Liberation Front party and had been in power for twenty years. He was succeeded by Tebboune, a former minister and a member of the FLN itself.
The leaderless Hirak protests have been temporarily halted by the pandemic, but since February, Algerians have taken to the streets again on a weekly basis. As in 2019, they are demanding political change, democracy and more freedom. They are not satisfied with President Tebboune and the police often deal with them harshly.