June 13, 2021

In Algeria, the legislative elections struggle to convince a disillusioned opinion

Soufiane Djilali believes in it. Loose words and smooth gestures, the candidate of the Jil Jadid party – from the democratic current – in the legislative elections on Saturday, June 12, in Algeria, wants to be optimistic. From his office tucked away in an alley in Zéralda, a western suburb of Algiers with famous beaches, the veterinarian launched in politics for three decades affirms that “Something is playing”.

While participation promises to be minimal due to the boycott of the ballot by the supporters of Hirak (anti-regime protest movement), Mr. Djilali sees mainly in these elections “The beginning of a process”. “The Algerians understood that the caciques of the old Assembly had been removed and that the next Parliament will be largely renewed”, he emphasizes.

On Thursday evening, the arrest in Algiers of political activist Karim Tabbou and journalists Khaled Drareni and Ihsan el-Kadi, however, offered a whole new dimension to the climate surrounding the ballot: that of a repressive harassment of the Hirak faithful. of which approximately 225 are now detained.

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This electoral meeting is an additional step in the counter-offensive of the Algerian authorities aimed at neutralizing the dynamic protest in Algeria which, having obtained the departure in April 2019 of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, had generalized his demand around the requirement of a “System departure”. Destabilized at first, the regime began to recover with the election in December 2019 of a new head of state in the person of Abdelmadjid Tebboune, former Minister of Housing and Prime Minister with a lightning mandate ( less than three months) in 2017. The consultation was largely ignored with a participation rate of barely 40%.

Movement of the “independents”

Then the Constitution was revised in November 2020 with a view to establishing, according to official rhetoric, a “New Algeria freed from autocracy”, in line with the demands of « Original popular hirak », formula to which the preamble of the new Basic Law expressly refers. Participation was even more mediocre (23.7%), a sign of general perplexity in the face of Mr. Tebboune’s “road map”.

Finally, these legislative elections of June 12 should bring out a renewed parliamentary staff – younger, feminized and more qualified – in order to convince Algerians that their country has really changed era. “New Algeria emerges from a field of ruins and mines inherited from the deposed regime”, proclaims the official daily The Mujahideen.

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