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‘Your votes do matter’, Algeria tells citizens

April 10, 2017 at 11:42 am

Image of an Algerian woman preparing election ballots [Magharebia/flickr]

Campaigning for Algeria’s legislative elections due to take place next month began yesterday as authorities desperately try to persuade the disillusioned public that their vote truly counts.

Posters were placed around the streets with statements including “Make your voice heard” while government-sponsored advertisements run on televisions in the hopes of attracting a larger voter turnout than the 43 per cent that participated in the last legislative elections in 2012.

The election is likely to see President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN) and the allied Rally for National Democracy win a majority with a number of parties boycotting the election because they believe the outcome has already been decided.

23 million

    Algerians are registered to vote by universal suffrage

The election comes amidst growing security and economic crises and concern for what Algeria will be like once 80-year-old Bouteflika is succeeded.

“I couldn’t care less. Nothing will change,” an Algerian who has been unemployed for the last five years explained, according to AFP.

Read: Arab League to send over 100 observers to monitor Algerian elections

Fifty-year-old taxi driver Ouardia also said she would not be taking part in the election: “Politicians only remember that the people exist during elections. The rest of the time, we can go to hell.”

Algerians are facing a major increase in price of basic goods including fruit and vegetables which is only adding to the country’s financial worries. According to political analyst Rachid Grim, the daily problems of Algerians are likely to mean a low election turnout as “the largest party in Algeria is that of the silent majority”.

They’re no longer interested in the elections. They believe the outcome has already been decided and their votes won’t be taken into account.

Interior Minister Noureddine Bedoui called on Algerians to take to the polls to vote to “preserve peace and stability” and urged television broadcasters to help inform voters of the importance of casting their ballots.

Despite the disillusionment of a large part of Algerian society in elections, there are a large number of Algerians who believe voting should be made compulsory. “Sleeping the day of the vote and then complaining afterward about the result” was “absurd,” according to 80-year-old Said.

There are around 23 million Algerians registered to vote by universal suffrage for 462 lawmakers in the election. Candidates on 940 lists from 15 parties and on two independent lists will hold hundreds of campaigning events across the country.

Since 2016, 410 members of a new electoral body will oversee the voting with half of them magistrates and the others picked from civil society. The President of the Independent High Authority for Election Supervision (HIISE), Abdelwahab Derbal, has confirmed that the European Union, African Union and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will also send observers totalling 300 so far.