Editorials: Algeria’s election: Still waiting for real democracy | The Economist

Parties competing in Algeria’s general election on May 10th faced a weary cynicism among voters. So far the Arab spring has passed the country by. Still recovering from the grim legacy of a civil war of the 1990s, in which at least 100,000 Algerians are thought to have died, few people seem tempted to take the revolutionary road. But nor do many see much of a way forward using the ballot box, at least not in the form being presented by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Since a general election in 1992 was interrupted by the army to prevent a win by the Islamic Salvation Front, Algeria’s powers-that-be have not left national elections to chance. Mr Bouteflika came to power in 1999 after six leading candidates had withdrawn from the contest in protest against alleged fraud. With a nod to demands for democracy elsewhere in the region, this time the authorities let in more than 450 foreign election observers, including, for the first time, 140 from the EU. They do not seem to be making much of a difference. In any case, few commentators predicted that as many as the 35% who turned out last time would bother to vote. Yet 21 new parties had been approved since February. The authorities’ preferred outcome is said to be a parliament made up of a “mosaic” of parties, with no strong block having a dominant voice. A handful of genuine opposition parties, including the old Socialist Forces Front (FFS in French) and the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Front (FJD), evidently believed it worth striving to limit the scope for fraud. So they highlighted the dearth of their party representatives at polling stations and secured, as a last-minute concession, the interior ministry’s agreement to put party representatives on the commissions that supervised vote-counts at governorate level.

Full Article: Algeria’s election: Still waiting for real democracy | The Economist.

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