Parliamentary Elections Won’t Rescue Algeria from its Legitimacy Problem

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A crowd listens to citizen proposals at an early Hirak march in Algiers (2019).
Today is election day in Algeria, albeit under tense circumstances. Arrests of activists and journalists have expanded in recent days; the latest tally counts over 220 detainees. While putting many Algerians on edge, this campaign will do nothing to inspire participation in today's vote. For more on the stakes of today's polls and their context, read my latest analysis, published earlier this week at the Atlantic Council's MENA Source blog:
Arriving on the heels of two years of overt popular contestation, Algeria’s June 12 parliamentary elections will not suffice to resolve the country’s deep political impasse.

The upcoming polls are the latest attempt by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s administration to claim a mantle of legitimacy it sorely lacks. Both Tebboune’s election i December 2019 and a constitutional referendum last November appeared to deliver the results he and his sponsors in the country’s powerful security forces sought. High levels of abstention and protest, however, highlighted a wide gulf separating Algerians from their leaders (in the country of forty-three million, fewer than one in seven eligible voters voted for the constitution, which passed nonetheless).

Algeria’s rulers have long dismissed this gulf but it became undeniable in 2019 when the Hirak protest movement erupted, bringing an end to the twenty-year reign of Tebboune’s predecessor, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The mass demonstrations, which were triggered by Bouteflika’s choice to run for a fifth presidential term but were fed by years of accumulated frustration and indignity, also plunged the country into a political deadlock. For two years, gray-haired authorities have faced off against protesters drawn from a population that is much younger, hungry for opportunity, and less accepting of Algeria’s longstanding isolation. ...
I invite you to read the full article here: "Parliamentary elections won’t rescue Algeria from its legitimacy problem." And if you enjoyed this analysis and want to learn more about current dynamics in Algeria, consider pre-ordering The Algerian Dream, my forthcoming book on Algeria's young generations. Full details here.

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