Following the lowest ever recorded voter turnout in Algeria’s parliamentary election history, Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad has resigned. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune accepted the resignation and appointed Djerad as caretaker premier until a new cabinet is established.
The National Liberation Front (FLN), Algeria’s largest political party, won the most seats in the general election with 98 of the 407 seats in parliament. Having emerged from Algeria’s lengthy struggle for independence from France in 1962, the result was better than anticipated for the FLN.
After two years of mass protests and political turmoil in Algeria, the parliamentary election on 12 June did not produce a decisive winner with a simple majority. The vote was boycotted as a result of the long-running Hirak protest movement, with only a 23 per cent voter turnout.
A coalition of at least three parliamentary blocs will be necessary to form a majority in parliament with the minimum requirement of 204 seats. The new parliament will be inaugurated by next month, followed by the appointment of a new prime minister and formation of a government suited to the emerging political landscape.
The protest movement began in February 2019, when hundreds of thousands of Algerians took to the streets against the then-upcoming presidential election, which they expected would be rigged. Despite mass demonstrations, with the support of the Algerian army former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was replaced by Tebboune in December 2019.
Despite promises to initiate a dialogue with the protestors, Tebboune supported the crackdown on pro-democracy activists. The president has since struggled for legitimacy while the Hirak movement has demanded an overhaul of Algeria’s political system.
As the Covid-19 pandemic forced the protestors to suspend their marches, the repression of Algerian pro-democracy activists extended to the internet. Security agencies have harassed those who speak out against the government, with activist Facebook page administrators arrested and news websites blocked.
In the face of the pandemic and with dozens placed in detention for political dissent, the Hirak protest movement has continued to thrive in Algeria. Despite Covid restrictions, thousands gathered in Algiers on 22 February to mark Hirak’s second anniversary. The Algerian Minister of Justice announced pardons and the release of 59 prisoners to coincide with the movement’s anniversary.
With Algeria facing unprecedented political disorder and an economic crisis due to a fall in oil prices, it is likely that the pro-democracy movement will only become more potent.