After the legislative elections in Algeria…
Ghania Khelifi - 22/06/2012
The political Front for the Safety of Democracy has just been established in Algiers to reject the results of the 10th May parliamentary elections. Created by 14 parties, this body will, nonetheless, not change the course of events because its members only represent 28 seats in an assembly dominated by the president’s party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), flanked by the Prime Minister's National Democratic Rally (RND) who hold an absolute majority with 291 seats out of 462.
The Parties composing this front have all been approved three months before parliamentary elections. Apart from a few personalities, such as the Islamist Djaballah, the other officials are almost unknown to the public and the number of the supporters of some of them would not exceed a few tens. If the Green Alliance (a recently created coalition of Islamist parties) joined the denunciation of electoral fraud, like the Socialist Forces Front (centre left), it has not yet taken part in the meetings of the Front. Nevertheless, the new Front aims strengthen resistance by organising protest actions such as a people's Parliament on the day of the official inauguration of the new elected assembly, by the establishment of a policy investigation commission on overruns and by publishing a white paper on electoral fraud.
The Algerian political scene is used to this post-election turmoil that has, according to the voter’s memory, never materialized let alone in this battle of David against Goliath. The division of the National Assembly is very much like a casting for the presidential elections of 2014. It is no secret that President Bouteflika is a sick man. Weakened by his office, he will unlikely seek a fourth term. In April, he had suggested that he wanted to retire and pass the torch to younger generations. Except that the FLN is not exactly the best way to renew the political staff.
In this year of commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of independence gained under the FLN leadership, Algeria seems to come back to square one by offering its parliament to the old party and its clone the RND (National Rally for Democracy). This shows the failure of the democratic handover of power. The system that supports Bouteflika and his party does not want to take any risks losing control in 2014 by allowing Islamist political forces or other Democrats to access to power.
Even if in government since the 1990s, the Islamists of the Green Alliance have been fooled because their calculations have not only ignored the Algerian government’s greed but also their own limited ability to mobilise the population. Their presence in government and the security of all the government’s excesses gives them no chance to be the builders of a green spring as they had hoped. The success of the Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan Islamists have made them forget Algeria’s reality.
All they had to do was pay attention to the Prime Minister who mocked this Arab spring manufactured in the West last April. “This is not an Arab Spring, but a deluge on the Arabs and this is confirmed every single day,” had proclaimed the head of the RND in the beginning of May when he spoke of “Iraq’s colonisation, the destruction of Libya, the division of Sudan and the weakening of Egypt.” As he welcomed victory, the leader of the FLN explains that “on polling day (10th May)”, the Algerians “have rejected the Arab Spring” and “chose stability”.
The Algerian Islamist parties were actually thrown out with the bathwater of standardization. The MSP (Movement of Society for Peace) who had left the presidential alliance to join the Green Alliance understood against its will that the president's chair was moving away like a mirage since the 10th of May. The government’s ingratitude that the MSP had so long supported obliges the party to consider its opposing position as an emergency exit. Even though this party has decided, for the moment, not to participate in the next government it still remains the victim of the trap set by the artisans of the ancient FLN’s victory.
Leader of this party and “very close to Bouteflika”, Abdelaziz Belkhadem is proposing a political alliance to different parties. His career considered to be over hardly a few months ago, Belkhadem, leader of the ultra conservative wing of the FLN has been tremendously successful thanks to his numerous attempted coups and conspiracies organised within the party even though we know that he was supported by Bouteflika. Behind the political scenes it is said that the aim was not to support Belkhadem to become president but to give him the means to prepare the next presidential election campaign and to help those who will be knighted by that same power.
Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia would like to be this man but he will withdraw if the generals who support him order him to do so. Said Bouteflika, the president's brother, would also have presidential ambitions but the hypothesis is implausible because Algerian military policymakers do not appreciate out-of-the-clan competition. The Algerians, who have overwhelmingly abstained from voting on the 10th of May, have understood that the cards were reshuffled but they still have no hand in.
Translated from French by Elizabeth Grech