Legislative elections held last 4th of May in Algeria were supposed to be important and crucial according to the prevailing troubled geopolitical and national context. These elections came after Algeria has witnessed major institutional changes, such as the disbanding of the DRS in 2013 and the amendment of the new constitution lately this year ; as they also precedes the presidential elections planned for 2019. Yet, these elections brought nothing new and turned out to be the same old political carnival…
The outcome of votes
As expected, the ruling coalition : the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Democratic Rally (RND), won the majority of the 462 seats of the people’s National assembly. Some puppet parties, which saw their representation at the assembly shrink, contested the outcome of the vote, threatening to take it to the streets…but who cares when they “cry wolf”.
However, the surprise came from the official low voters turnout of 35,37% . Not only because it has reached its lowest level for years, but rather because it has not been rigged, somehow, by the “Wizards of poll” to raise participation rate as it used to be in the past. This low rate shows, with no doubt, that the winner is on the abstention side. More than 65% of Algerians simply didn’t show up at the polls, without mentioning those who did cast a blank or spoiled ballot paper as 1.757.043 votes were declared null and void.
The meaning of abstention
Some may say that Algerians who didn’t vote followed the instructions of the parties who previously have called for elections boycott such as Benflis’ party “Freedom avant-garde” (طلائع الحريات) or Sofiane Djillali’s party “New generation” (جيل جديد ). Such claim is hard to believe knowing that both politicians are not what we can call…champions of democracy since they have previously served “the regime”. The first as prime minister with president Bouteflika and the second as a designated member of the un-elected Nation’s council established by the military junta during the 1990s. Both are actually part of the system Algerians want to get rid of…
The sad and scary truth is that Algerians who didn’t vote followed no party, no politician, no leader. Abstention in this case, means simply lack of trust. It states in fact, that the majority of Algerians don’t trust the existing myriad of political parties as they no longer believe in politics and elections as a mean to enforce democracy in Algeria. And if it is true that abstention deprives this majority of Algerians from representativeness in the next parliament, likewise this important abstention rate deprives the new elected people’s legislative assembly from legitimacy. Sadly, political parties prefer to ignore this strong message…that they have reached a political bankruptcy.
So back to square one of democracy in Algeria. Let us remember how it all started : the lingering trauma of the first ever multi-party legislative elections in 1991 aborted by a military coup ; the forceful crackdown of people’s choice ; the “witch hunting” of militants and their imprisonment in camps ; the terror…followed by the establishment of a fraudulent democracy with disposable puppet politicians.
In order to restore trust, post-1990s politics in Algeria is desperately in need of an extreme makeover.
Reboot “Democracy”…with clean slates.