Politics & Economics

The Algerian Elections: the End of a Political Crisis or the Start of One?

North Africa

The temporary Algerian President Abdelkader Bensalah has called on Algerians to take part in the presidential elections at the end of the year.

Algeria’s interim President, Abdelkader Bensalah, gave a televised speech at the end of last week stating that the presidential elections in Algeria will be taking place on 12 December 2019. These will be the first popular elections to take place in the country since the resignation of former long-standing President Abduleziz Bouteflika in April following a series of street protests, after which Bouteflika succumbed to the will of the people.

Those in power at the moment in Algeria have been pushing for an election for weeks. Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah is one such figure who as repeatedly called for the implementation of elections in the country.

Nevertheless, these calls have been met by large protests, that have been continuing since February of this year and even after the resignation of Bouteflika. Protests believe that several figures in the current government are still connected to the ancien régime. In addition, many of the most prominent figures in Algerian politics are military men, as the army has proven to play an influential role in the political transition of the country since the resignation of Bouteflika.

The interim government in Algeria is currently referring to the same constitution that existed in the country during Bouteflika’s tenure. It holds that elections are to be held 90 days after the departure of the former President. The initial elections were set to take place on 4 July, however there were no credible candidates to stand for office and so the elections were delayed. Protesters have been demanding that the constitution should be ignored. In neighbouring Tunisia, a constituent assembly was elected to draft a new constitution, which was adopted in 2014 following the ousting of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011. Such a process has not occurred in Algeria.

In addition, the Algerian military is known to have a strong influence over the judiciary. Several arrests have been made in the country in favour of the military political elite. These factors have preserved the spark of the protests in Algeria up until today, as the protesters reject the running of election in such a political climate that does not hone genuine democratic engagement between citizens and the government.