Legislative and local elections today
A general election and local elections will be held today in Algeria. The elections, the first since a series of reforms were introduced are supposed to lead to a more representative parliament, but critics say that nothing is likely to change with the elections. That feeling of nothing is changing has led to calls for a boycott and the likelihood of a low turnout; some experts say as low as 10%.
President Bouteflika has appealed for people to vote with an enlarged People’s National Assembly of 462 seats (up from 389 seats) and a record number of candidates standing. There are 44 parties participating, 21 of whom are new this year. Some constituencies have as many as 60 candidates from which to choose.
Around 21.6 million people are eligible to vote and the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and National Democratic Rally (RND) are expected to gain the most seats.
The Islamist party, Movement of Society for Peace (Hamas) has said that they too expect to do well after attracting a number of smaller parties to join them in a coalition.
The secular Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) along with the Islamist Al-Qaeda in Islamist Maghreb (AQIM) have called on the people to boycott the elections.
Nearly all news stories suggest that there will be a lot of apathy and a very low turnout. The government are hoping for a turnout of more than 45%; in 2007 the turnout was 35%.