Algerians Vote for New Parliament

Algerians Vote for New ParliamentAlgerians Vote for New Parliament

Algerian voters looked set to hand the ruling FLN and its allies another five-year mandate in a parliamentary election on Thursday overshadowed by low oil prices and concerns over the health of the country’s elderly president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Turnout is often low in parliament elections, which many Algerians say offer little change in a system dominated since independence in 1962 by the FLN.

Scathing satirical videos on social media captured a mood of apathy among younger voters, Reuters reported.

The National Liberation Front (FLN) and the pro-government National Rally for Democracy are widely expected to win against a divided opposition that includes leftists. Smaller parties have boycotted the vote.

Making his first public appearance since late last year, Bouteflika voted from a wheelchair accompanied by his brothers and helped by his young nephew. The veteran leader shook hands with police and polling station staff, but did not speak.

Since a stroke in 2013 left him in hospital for months, he has mostly been seen in brief state television images greeting dignitaries. He was reelected in 2014, but his health has often left questions over whether he would finish his term.

In power for nearly two decades, Bouteflika, 80, is widely praised for bringing the country out of a decade-long 1990s war with militants that killed 200,000 people and left many Algerians still wary of instability.

A veteran of the war against colonial France, he also oversaw a period of high oil prices that financed a massive welfare system from cheap housing and subsidized fuel and food programs with roots in Algeria’s post-independence socialism.

Government officials and ruling parties sought to rally voters out to the polls under the slogan “Let your voice be heard”, mostly appealing to concerns over security and continuity under Bouteflika.


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