2 December 2012

Algeria: Islamists Lose Ground in Algeria Local Elections

Algiers — The governing coalition won a majority of seats in the November 29th poll.

Algeria's ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy (RND) trounced Islamist parties to dominate the country's local elections.

The FLN won outright majorities in 159 of the country's 1,451 communes, while the RND came in second with majorities in 132 communes, according to results released Friday (November 30th) by Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia.

The Islamist parties lost ground in the November 29th poll. The Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP) and Green Algeria Alliance only managed to win ten communes each.

Although the FLN earned a majority in many communes, it has been forced to form alliances with other parties in many localities.

Ould Kablia announced that turnout was 44%, up from 43% in 2007, describing it as "acceptable", according to AFP. Turnout was highest in the southern province of Tindouf, where it was more than 70%. It was lowest in the capital (26%).

The minister also offered assurances that the poll was run in a completely transparent way. He said that the few problems reported by parties, especially with regard to soldiers' votes, were unfounded.

"Things went according to the rules. Soldiers voted either by proxy or in the communes where their barracks are located," he commented. "In the latter case, they presented certificates proving that they have been removed from the electoral rolls in their communes of origin," he added.

Ould Kablia said that no instructions were given to soldiers as to how they should vote.

The minister also said that most of the newly-approved parties had made little impact in the elections. He attributed the results to "the lack of experience of these parties".

While the ruling parties characterised the election as a big step forwards for efforts to consolidate the rule of law, opposition parties called the results into question.

"All of the observers noted the government's determination to promote criminality and incompetence through its lists, increasing the risks of national destabilisation," the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) claimed in a statement.

Several irregularities occurred, but most of the problems were resolved on the day of the vote, according to Mohamed Seddiki, head of the National Commission for Monitoring Local Elections (CNISEL). The commission promised to reveal a number of details in its final report, which will be submitted to the president in the next few days.

Nineteen-year-old Karim Daoud told Magharebia he hopes "that local councillors will work in the interests of society throughout their terms of office".

"Young people need housing and work, I hope that councillors have understood our message," he said.

Amina Zerouti, 22, said that she would like to see improvement in the way that communes were run.

"We want honest, proper and decent representatives," Zerouti said.

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