Low Voter Turnout Anticipated in Algerian Elections
In a run-up to an election where abstaining voters were threatened to be punished by God, Algeria’s parliamentary election are expected to have a low voter turnout. Jeremy Keenan, a professor of social anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, predicted while voter turnout could possibly be 20 percent the likely figure is around 12 percent. “These elections have nothing to do with olitical power’ and even less with democracy. In reality, they are a referendum on the Algerian regime,” said Keenan.
The election build-up was characterized by low turnouts at rallies, defaced election posters and a populace that seemed immune to government promises that this time will be different. “Boycotting is the only possibility that remains for the Algerians to express themselves without risk,” sociologist Nasser Djabi said. “It is a form of protest. It’s saying ‘I don’t care, I want nothing to do with politics, I don’t like these parties, parliament is useless.’”
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika struggled to gain the youth vote, to avoid the extremely low youth turnout in the May 10 polls. The Associated Press noted Bouteflika “has little resonance with the 70% of the population that is under the age of 30 and afflicted by a 20% unemployment rate.” Sociologist Fatma Oussedik said, “The young people in this country don’t have a life. You can only adhere to a state when you think the state is fair. But what’s tragic is that promises are never kept even though the state is rich.” Hamid Bouchna, an unemployed university graduate with a degree in electrical engineering stated, “All the parties are the same, filled with scammers and the corrupt.”