Algeria’s National Liberation Front (FLN), long the country’s biggest political party, won the most seats in Saturday’s parliamentary election, the head of the electoral authority has said.
However, its 105 seats were far short of the 204 needed to secure a majority in the 407-seat parliament, with the Islamist Movement of Society for Peace (MSP) party winning 64 seats and independent candidates winning 78 seats.
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“The dynamic of peaceful change that was launched [with the protests] is being strengthened,” electoral authority head Mohamed Chorfi said, referring to the election.
The voting on Saturday was meant to open the way to a “new Algeria” heralded by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to end an era of corruption and give the North African nation a new face.
However, the turnout was estimated after the vote at 30 percent with the Hirak pro-democracy protest movement boycotting the elections, as did the traditional opposition parties.
Most of the elected members of parliament are expected to support Tebboune’s programme, including economic reforms.
Saturday’s vote also followed a presidential election in 2019 and a referendum on an amended constitution last year, but many Algerians still think the real power is wielded by security forces.
The turnout was the lowest in at least 20 years for legislative elections. By comparison, it was 35.7 percent for the last legislative vote in 2017.
The biggest difference from previous elections was the much larger number of independents winning seats in parliament, with Islamists retaining about the same share as previously.
Calls for boycott
The opposition Hirak movement had called for a boycott after seven of its leaders were arrested on Thursday.
It mobilised hundreds of thousands of people in 2019 to force longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign after he launched a bid for a fifth term.
The movement returned to the streets in February after an almost yearlong break due to the coronavirus pandemic, having also survived a campaign of arrests, a presidential election and a constitutional referendum partly aimed at burying it.
But the government stepped up its crackdown against Hirak last month, blocking protests and arresting hundreds of activists who have defied new restrictions on public gatherings.
Seven leading protest movement people, including leading opposition figure Karim Tabbou, were arrested on Thursday while on Friday police deployed heavily in the capital, blocking any bid by the Hirak movement to hold anti-government protests.