Algeria: Nation Votes in Parliamentary Elections Amid Disillusionment, Repression

Algeria is holding its first parliamentary election since a 2019 uprising. There are 24 million eligible voters, but the woman-led Hirak movement is boycotting it, citing repression and “old guard” networks.

Algerians headed to polling stations on Saturday for the country’s first parliamentary election since former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika was ousted.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune shrugged off boycott calls and low turnout prognoses, urging “every Algerian” to express “his opinion” as he cast his vote on the outskirts of the capital Algiers.

He called the election in February — bringing it forward from 2022 — after returning from medical treatment in Germany and publicly thanking its President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The election of 407 parliamentarians for five years was called amid renewed reform protests.

Once-governing Algerian parties urged a big turnout, but two main parties in Algeria’s Berber Kabylie region issued boycott calls as did many members of the loosely-knit Hirak protest movement, citing potential fraud.

Samir Belarbi, a prominent figure of Hirak, which has long advocated a purge of Algeria’s army-backed elite, said “elections will not give the regime legitimacy.”

Contesting Saturday’s election, the first since Abdelaziz Bouteflika was replaced by Tebboune, after unrest in 2019, were the once-governing National Liberation Front ((FLN), and Islamist parties, split into five factions.