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POGAR > Countries > Country Theme: Elections: Algeria
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Overview

An elected president occupies the head of the executive branch of Algeria. The president of Algeria is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. In the event that no candidate gains an absolute majority in the first round of voting, a run-off election between the candidates with the two greatest vote shares takes place. Candidates can be nominated in one of two ways; either by 600 elected officials (local and national), or by popular petition of at least 75,000 registered voters. Most recent presidential elections took place on 9 April 2009, whereby President Abdel Aziz Boutafliqa was reelected.

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Election Laws, Systems and Processes

Algeria has a bicameral parliament, composed of the National People’s Assembly (Al-Majlis Al-Chaabi Al-Watani), and the Council of the Nation (Majlis Al-Oumma). Suffrage in Algeria extends to all Algerian nationals, both men and women, over the age of 18. The 389 members of the National People's Assembly hold five-year terms. Of these, 381 are elected from party lists by proportionate representation for parties receiving over 5% of the vote. Candidates are elected by popular vote from 48 multi-member districts or wilayas. Each wilaya elects a minimum of four members. Eight of the 380 seats are reserved for Algerians living abroad. The Council of the Nation is composed of 144 members who hold six-year terms. Of these, 96 are elected indirectly by members of the wilaya assemblies. The president appoints the remaining 48 members. One-third of the members stand for re-election every three years.

A constitutional amendment adopted in 1996 made significant changes to electoral procedures. Among its stipulations, it provided for parliamentary representation for Algerian nationals living abroad, and amended electoral, voting, and campaigning procedures. In addition, the amendment prohibits political parties based solely on religious or regional bases. Parties must file statutes with the Ministry of Interior in order to become legal entities, and rules are included to ensure that parties have a national rather than regional support base. The 1991 legislative elections, which were governed by a plurality electoral system, in part prompted these changes. The current electoral system of proportional representation is considered to provide greater political opportunities for smaller opposition parties. All complaints regarding elections are lodged with the Constitutional Council. The Electoral Law governs the elections and the Political Parties Law governs the political parties.

On 12 November 2008 both chambers of the Algerian parliament had approved, almost unanimously, 5 constitutional amendments suggested by President Boutafliqa .One of those amendments cancels or eliminates a paragraph in article 74 of the Algerian Constitution of 1996 which limits or restricts the President's right to run in presidential elections to 2 times .That cancellation has allowed president Boutafliqa to run for a third term in office. The newly introduced amendments also provided women with a wider margin of participation in political life through committing political parties to allocate a certain proportion for women's representation. The exact ratio of that allocation will be determined at a later date by a law to that effect promulgated by elected councils at the national and local levels.

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Election Authorities

Signaling his own commitment to transparent elections, President Zeroual in April of 1999 announced the creation of the National Independent Commission for the Supervision of the Presidential Election (CNISEP). CNISEP was headed by Judge Mohammed Bedjaoui, a justice at the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Bedjaoui presided over the Constitutional Council, which vetted the six candidates for the 2004 elections. One hundred thirty international observers observed the polling on April 8 and discovered no evidence of fraud despite accusations by some of the defeated presidential candidates. In order to set required arrangements for holding the presidential elections of 9 April 2009, President Boutafliqa issued a decision concerning the formation of a national committee entrusted with preparing the ground for and conducting that election.

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Presidential Elections

The latest presidential elections in Algeria took place on 9 April 2009. On 12 November 2008, both chambers of the Algerian parliament voted in favor of the costitutional amendments suggested by President Boutafliqa. The Rally Party For Culture and DEmocracy voted against those amendments. On 15 January 2009, the Rally announced that it is boycotting the coming presidential elections.The announcement was made by the Rally's leader.

A total of 13 potential candidates submitted their applications to run in the presidential elections. However, only 6 of those applicants were approved, namely: Abdel Aziz Boutafliqa, the current president, who was supported by the National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally; Louwiza Hannoon - candidate of the Workers Party; Musa Twati-National Front candidate; Mohammad Al-Sa'eed - independent candidate;Mohammad Jaheed Younsi - candidate of the National Reform Movement; and Ali Fawzi Raba'een - candidate of the Pledge 54 Party. The total number of registered voters was 20 million, but participation rate was 74%.The voting process for the Algerian community living abroad began on April 4, 2009 and ended on April 9, 2009.

President Boutafliqa won the elections, and the official elections results were as follows: Boutafliqa received 90.24% of votes; Louwiza Hannoon received 4.22%; Musa Twati received 2.31%; Mohammad Jaheed Younsi reveived 1.37%; Ali Fawzi Raba'een received 0.93%; and Mohammad Al-Sa'eed received 0.92% of cast votes.

Previous presidential elections took place in April 2004. The Constitutional Council, charged with assuring that all candidates meet the requirements dictated by Electoral Law, found that only six out of nine met the necessary requirements. These requirements pertain to such things as candidate's nationality, spouse's nationality, involvement in the Revolution of 1954, and collecting at least 75,000 signatures of supporters. During the official campaigning-period, from mid -March to early April, the candidates engaged in country-wide campaigning. There were televised debates between the candidates and critical reports of the candidates in the Algerian press. Accordind to official government sources, around 59.3% of eligible voters participated in the elections, in which President Boutafliqa received 83.5% of cast votes.

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Legislative Elections

The most recent legislative elections took place on May 17, 2007, and the participation rate was 35.5% as only 6.6 million eligible voters went to the polls. The elections were contested by 24 political parties and 102 free lists. The parties and free lists together fielded 12229 candidates, but the Islamic Salvation Front called on its supporters to boycott the elections, as did the National Reform Movement (Islamic) led by Abdullah Jaballah, and the "Socialist Forces Front" led by Hussein Ayat Ahmad. There were only 2 or 3 observers in most electoral bureaus rather than the five observers as stipulated in the electoral law. The elections were supervised by the "National Committee for Election Monitoring". Out of 24 political parties that participated in elections, 23 parties secured parliamentary seats.

Final results showed that the 3 parties of the Presidential Alliance won the elections and control of the new parliament. These parties are: the National Liberation Front Party led by prime minister Abdelaziz Bel Khadem that won 136 seats thereby losing its absolute majority in the 2002 parliament (199 seats). However, its ally the National Democratic Rally Party bolstered its parliamentary share by winning 61 seats (compared to 48 seats in 2002). This party is led by ex-prime minister Ahmad O Yahya. The other ally, the Movement for Society of Peace (Muslim Brothers) also bolstered its share by winning 52 seats (compared to 38 seats in 2002). However, the wing of the National Reform Movement led by Mohammad Bulihya suffered a huge setback as its parliamentary share dropped from 43 seats in 2002 to 3 seats only in the current elections. The Liberals party held the forth rank by winning 33 seats. The workers party (Communist) led by Mrs. Louisa Hannoun won 26 seats. The Rally for Culture and Democracy (Berber) led by Sa'eed Sa'di won 19 seats. The "National Algerian Front" won 13 seats. For the first time, small parties attained optimum results: the National Movement for Nature and Development won 7 seats, the Renaissance Movement and the Movement for Youth and Democracy won 5 seats each. The Republican National Alliance, the National Accord Movement and the Algerian Renewal Party won 4 seats each. The National Front of Liberals for Harmony and the Openness Movement won 3 seats each. The National Republican Rally, the National Hope Movement, Pledge 54 and the National Party for Solidarity and Development won 2 seats each. The Algerian Rally, the National Democratic Front and the National Democratic Rally won one seat each. Out of 24 political parties that participated in elections, 23 parties secured parliamentary seats.

Previous legislative elections were held on 30 May 2002. Official estimates reported a turnout of 46.2% of registered voters. The National Liberation Front (FLN) was the big victor, increasing its representation in the People’s Assembly from 64 to 199 seats, while the National Democratic Rally (RND), which had obtained 155 seats in the 1997 elections, won only 48 in 2002. In coalition, these two parties hold 63% of the legislative seats. Of the legal Islamic parties, the Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP) won 38 seats, and the National Reform Movement (Islah) increased its presence in parliament to 43 seats, while the Nahda gained one, giving the Islamists 21 per cent of the seats. The social-democratic Front of Socialist Forces and the liberal-Berber Rally for Culture and Democracy officially boycotted the elections although some Kabyles ran as independents.

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Local Elections

Local elections were most recently held on 10 October 2002. Seventeen million voters went to the polls to elect their representatives in 48 provinces and 1541 municipalities. 24 political parties participated in these elections. The turnout was 50% of eligible voters. The National Liberation Front Party (FLN), headed by the Prime Minister Mr. Ali Bin Flis, won 4878 municipal seats out of a total of 13981 seats. That gain enabled the FLN to head 730 out of 1541 municipalities. The Democratic National Rally (RND), which is backed by the government, came second by winning 2827 municipal seats, thereby heading 272 municipalities. The National Reform Movement (MNR or Islah), a legally licensed Islamist party, occupied the third place by winning 1237 municipal seats, thereby heading 68 municipalities. The fourth place was taken by the Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP), another Islamist political party, which won 989 municipal seats and controlled 45 municipalities.

As for the concurrent elections to the provincial assemblies, the FLN won 798 seats out of a total of 1960 seats thereby almost controlling 44 provincial assemblies out of 48. The National Reform Movement came in second place by winning 374 provincial seats, and the Democratic National Rally came in third place by winning 184 seats. In general, the municipal elections proceeded smoothly, except for some disturbances in the two provinces of Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia in the tribal region where Berber extremists burned the election boxes and disrupted the electoral process in 52 municipalities out of a total of 129 municipalities in the tribal district. The minister of interior promised new elections in the 52 municipalities where elections were disrupted as a result of boycott and violence.

President Bouteflika issued a decree on July 17, 2005 dissolving municipal and local councils in the predominantly Kabyle (Berber) governorates of Tizi Ouzou, Boumerdes, Bejaia and Bouira, in order to conduct new partial elections in these provinces. No elections were conducted in most of the municipalities in the area during the local elections of October 2002, while some municipal councils had been elected by less than 1% of eligible voters. The president's decision complies with an agreement between the government and the "Al-Uroush Coordinating Body" of Berber leaders concluded in January 2005 that satisfied the basic demands of the protest movement in that area.

Partial provincial and municipal elections in the Kabyle area took place on November 24, 2005. The number of registered voters was 1.1 million, and 9871 candidates competed over 1181 municipal seats in 7 provinces and over 90 provincial council seats in the provinces of Bejaia and Tizi Ouzou. The ministry of interior announced that participation rate was 30%, and that elections proceeded in a normal manner. Final results were as follows: the Front of Socialist Forces came ahead of competing parties by winning 15 provincial council seats and 188 municipal council seats. The Rally for Culture and Change came second by winning 11 provincial council seats and 139 municipal seats. The "National Liberation Front" party won 11 provincial council seats and 125 municipal council seats. The "National Democratic Rally" party won 5 provincial council seats and 73 municipal seats.

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National Referenda

In the most recent referendum the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation was approved on September 29, 2005, by 97.36% of Algerian voters. The rate of participation at the national level was 79.76% of eligible voters. Participation rate varied among provinces; it was very low in the Kabyle (Berber) regions where only 11% of eligible voters did cast their votes. The highest rate of participation was in provinces and regions that had witnessed massacres and acts of violence in 1990s. The "Socialist Forces Front" led by Husein Ait Ahmed and the "Rally for Culture and Democracy," a secular party led by Sa'id Sa'di, boycotted the referendum. Opposition political parties accused the government of inflating the participation rate. The "Fundamentalist Group for Call and Combat" issued a statement on September 30, 2005 declaring its rejection of the amnesty offer stated in the peace and reconciliation charter.

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