Algerians vote amid anger over economy

2017-05-05 06:04
iStock

iStock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Algiers - Algerians voted on Thursday for a new parliament amid soaring unemployment and a deep financial crisis caused by a collapse in oil revenues.

But despite the urgent challenges facing the country, candidates have struggled to inspire voters disillusioned by what many see as a stagnant political system and the government's failure to keep its promises.

The North African country weathered the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings with massive spending on wages and subsidies that depleted government coffers.

But a 2014 collapse in crude oil prices forced the government to raise taxes and mothball many public projects.

Today, in a country of 40 million where half the population is under 30, one young person in three is unemployed.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal urged those angry about the state of the economy "to be patient".

"There is no more money" in state coffers, he said in a speech on Saturday reported by local media.

At least 45 000 police officers were deployed to guard the more than 53 000 polling stations across the country.

Little enthusiasm 

Polls are due to close at 19:00 and the first results are expected late on Friday morning.

Officials, fearing a low turnout, have spent weeks urging people to vote.

Sellal called for a "massive vote", urging women to wake their husbands early, refuse them coffee and "drag" them to the polling stations.

"If they resist, hit them with a stick," he told an all-female audience in the eastern city of Setif.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has used a wheelchair and rarely been seen in public since a 2013 stroke, has said a strong turnout was essential for "the stability of the country".

The authorities have even used mosques to spread the message, with imams urging Algerians to go to the polls.

But voters have shown little enthusiasm. Streets in Algiers were nearly deserted Thursday morning -- although polling stations were expected to be busier in the afternoon.

In a video posted online days before polling day and seen by more than two million people, one Algerian said the government had broken its promises to tackle an acute housing shortage and improve health care.

Despite that, Bouteflika's National Liberation Front (FLN) and its coalition ally, the Rally for National Democracy (RND), are expected to keep their majority in parliament.

In the 2012 election, the FLN, which dominated Algerian politics since independence in 1962, won 221 of the 462 seats in parliament.

Worst ever electoral defeat

Islamists, who held 60 seats in the outgoing parliament, represent the country's main opposition force.

In the last election, held a year after Arab Spring-inspired street protests, they had hoped to replicate the gains of their peers in Egypt and Tunisia.

Instead, they suffered their worst ever electoral defeat.

This year, they have formed two electoral alliances in bids to do better.

But since Algeria adopted a multi-party system in 1989, the opposition has repeatedly accused the ruling parties of electoral fraud.

Turnout has often been low, registering 43.14 percent in 2012 and 35.65 percent in 2007.

Even those figures were inflated, experts say.

Read more on:    abdelaziz bouteflika  |  algeria  |  north africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town

 
 

You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.