Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Algeria: Low Turnout in Local Elections

Algeria: Low Turnout in Local Elections

Friday, 24 November, 2017 - 09:15
Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika leaves with his unidentified nephew and his brother Said Bouteflika, right, after voting for local elections in Algiers Thursday, Nov.23, 2017. (AP)

Algerians headed on Thursday to cast votes in local elections with no apparent enthusiasm, after an electoral campaign that reflected economic downswing and social apathy.

Polling stations opened countrywide early in the morning for some 22 million registered voters. In the capital, voting started slow since usually citizens head out late to the polling stations. Little enthusiasm was shown in the country, revealed Algerian TV channels.

Fifty political parties and four alliances were competing for seats in 1,541 city councils and 48 state legislatures.

Bouteflika, 80, cast his vote in one of the polling stations in the capital, Algiers, knowing that he had rare appearances recently since his stroke in 2013.

In legislative elections of May, a huge number of voters abstained from participating – it didn’t exceed 35.37 percent compared to 42.9 percent five years ago. As for local elections in 2012, it reached 44.27 percent.

Elections stirred no enthusiasm in a country where 45 percent of its population is less than 25 years old with 30 percent out of them suffering from unemployment. On the political scene, stalemate dominates as the figures haven’t changed since decades. Algeria has also been facing a tough economic condition since 2014 due to the collapse of oil prices.

Mohammad, an unemployed 30-year-old, said he would not vote because “it will do absolutely nothing, things won’t change.”

Said, 52, who works as a cab driver, said that he will go to his work then return home. “I love my country but I already know voting is in vain,” he said. However, Mohammad al-Amari, 77, emphasized how important voting is, “and I will always vote,” he affirmed.

The electoral campaign focused on delicate matters such as the tough economic condition, the financial law of 2018 and the presidential elections in 2019, amidst expectations that Bouteflika will opt to run as a candidate for a fifth presidential term.

Editor Picks