Algeria, the legislative elections and the Arab Spring | Nassim Brahimi, Abdallah Jaballah, Islamist Green Coalition, Elizabeth Grech, FLN
Algeria, the legislative elections and the Arab Spring Print
Nassim Brahimi   

The saga of the Algerian legislative elections has come to an end. It marks the end of the circonspect, hyperbolic and alarmist discourse that has alerted us about the plot concocted by evil foreign forces watching our country. Obviously, this threat has been erased by the euphoria of the National Liberation Front (FLN)i. The historical party has won the majority of seats in parliament. This victory was that of the regime against itself, against its people and against its enemies, both internal and external.

Algeria, the legislative elections and the Arab Spring | Nassim Brahimi, Abdallah Jaballah, Islamist Green Coalition, Elizabeth Grech, FLN

Arab, Western and African observers stated that the legislative elections of May 2012 were held in “good conditions” and “respecting” internationally recognised standards. They all agreed to praise the proper conduct of the electoral process and have congratulated the Algerian people for their conscience and the Algerian authorities for their restraint. In short, everyone was congratulated while the Algerian people are rather worthy of sympathy…

Politics of paranoia and the game of the nationalist streak

The Algerian authorities have worked for weeks to spread two corollary ideas. The first one consisted of saying that the 10th May legislative elections would be a historical event comparable to the 1st of November, the day of the Algerian Revolution’s outbreak. Consequently, no Algerian had the right to miss this decisive event for the nation’s future. The second idea precised that all the wicked people of the world, all Algeria’s enemies, both internal and external ones, were impatiently waiting for the elections’ outcome in order to decide the country’s future. Thus, any abstention would be similar to “treason”, it would be a surrender to the NATO’s forces, to Qatar’s plans and France’s appetites. The Algerian regime has managed to create an atmosphere of general paranoia, anxiety and obsession by developing a pompous nationalist discourse. The regime flattered the nationalist streak of the Algerians that are sensitive with regards to anything related to national sovereignty.

The fear of foreign interference in a context marked by the Arab Spring has been highlighted by the idea that the Islamists would return to power especially since the green wave has invaded the neighbouring countries. Consequently, the Algerians have found the painful memories that had led them to be at one with the national project incarnated by the ruling parties: the FLN and the RND (Rassemblement National pour la Démocratie - National Rally for Democracyi).

Everything began on the 10th May 2012. Twenty million Algerians were invited to vote for their parliamentary representatives. The suspense was at its peak on election day due to the guarantees given by the President and other officials. Everyone was wondering about the winning party’s identity, the turnout or boycott, to the point that the most pessimistic analysts have failed to predict the results that have brought Algeria to the era of a single party, the time when the FLN ruled over the people, the government, the economy and even the climate.

During the period of elections, the Algerians have had enough of nationalist discourses warning against foreign interference. This idea that was promoted by the government and the political parties that revolve around him have finally influenced the opposition that ended up adopting this litany. The Algerians did not miss the appointment and many more than expected went to the polls. The turnout was over 40%. The regime won the bet and everyone was relieved but the after-effects were dramatic for all democracy activists who were confused by the return to a single party, a divinely unique party that resurfaced by winning 221 seats from 462. This means that the party only lacks a few seats to have the absolute majority. The same party will manage to get hold the legislative power by recovering some independent elected members among the amateurs of political nomadism.

Islamists reject the results without rebellion

As expected, the Islamist parties that relied on a Parliamentary tidal wave were left empty-handed. They have declared their rejection of the results thus defying the power that they accuse of fraud. Therefore, the Islamist parties have refused to endorse these results by describing the "resounding victory" of the ruling party, the FLN, as an "electoral farce." The Islamist Green Coalition including the Movement of Society for Peace, the Nahdha and the Movement for National Reform stated that "the Algerian spring was not cancelled but postponed”. The Islamist opponent Abdallah Jaballah, who heads the Front for Equality and Development, which won only seven seats, also described the elections as “a great farce”, saying that “we cannot comment this event because these were not elections at all”.
The Algerian opposition parties have strenuously criticised the results of the legislative elections that they consider as fraudulent. The Rally for Culture and Democracy, an opposition party, has called for a boycott, stating that the election results “enshrine the status quo.” Back to the scene after a decade of election boycott, the Socialist Forces Front, believes that “the regime has put all his genius to confirm itself at the head of the country”. The Labour Party challenged the election results where it gained 20 seats, 6 less than in the 2007 elections.

Algeria, the legislative elections and the Arab Spring | Nassim Brahimi, Abdallah Jaballah, Islamist Green Coalition, Elizabeth Grech, FLNAlgeria, the legislative elections and the Arab Spring | Nassim Brahimi, Abdallah Jaballah, Islamist Green Coalition, Elizabeth Grech, FLN

What is incontestable is that the last legislative elections, which were supposed to allow Algeria access to democracy, were not up to the country’s aspirations. Again, Algeria misses an important political step, postponing the Algerian dream of living in a democratic country.

Nassim Brahimi
Translated from French by Elizabeth Grech