The early legislative elections must take place this Saturday, June 12, in Algeria in order to elect the 407 deputies to the National People’s Assembly for five years. For power, it is a further step to restore all their legitimacy to the country’s institutions after the fall of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2019. But this election is rejected within Hirak and by part of the political class, in a context of severe economic crisis and increased repression.
For several days, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune multiplies the interviews in the international press. In particular, he promotes a “reconstruction of the republic”.
Algeria has lived for two years in a crisis of legitimacy for the institutions and political personnel on site. The challenge for power is to finally succeed in turning the page to Hirak. “The Algerian authorities are first trying, by organizing the choice of law, to gain some legitimacy through electoral formalism,” explains Brahim Oumansour, associate researcher at IRIS, the Institute of International Relations and strategic and specialist in the Maghreb. According to him, the authorities also present these choices in response to Hirak’s ambitions. “They want to give the impression of a change through the renewal of the political class within the Algerian Parliament. “
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Boycott of the opposition
But within Hirak and the political class, the vote is rejected, as are the presidential election in December 2019 and the constitutional referendum in November last year. Both are characterized by a reconciliation. Zoubida Assoul, president of the Union for Change and Progress (UPC), a small opposition party, believed that the legislative election in its current form could not be a solution to the crisis. For her, it is “just a maneuver of power to retrain, with the same practices and the same mechanisms and the same faces that are responsible for the current crisis”. His party, like other opposition groups, is calling for a boycott. The popular movement continues to oppose these elections, as it retains its original demands and demands a radical change in the system. But these elections, most of the militants in Hirak, see them more as a tool used by the leaders to maintain the system and not as a way to reform it, ”states Brahim Oumansour.
Oppression of the protest
In parallel with the normalization of institutions that the regime wants, repression has increased. The authorities seem to want to stifle the protest. More than 2,000 people were arrested in two weeks in early May and now the Hirak marches are banned. As of June 4, the National Committee for the Release of Detainees still had 214 people in custody for their views or for participating in the protests. A record since the start of the protest movement. An association near Hirak and two opposition political parties are also threatened with dissolution: the Labor Party and UPC.
For researcher Brahim Oumansour, “this repressive policy contributes to exacerbating the crisis of confidence”. The same analysis by law professor Mouloud Boumghar, for whom this repression prevents a credible vote from being held. “Everyone is against legislative elections, not in principle against elections, because their main demand is for a democratic state governed by the rule of law, but because these elections are not free. “
Parliament without great powers
And while Algerians are worried about the social and economic difficulties after a year of pandemic and the decline in oil revenues, these legislative choices, without part of the opposition and rejected by Hirak, could lead to very low participation. to elect deputies without much power. “In any case, whoever wins these elections, this Parliament has very little power. The executive director of the Algerian constitution, and in particular the president of the republic, is overwhelmed, explains Mouloud Boumghar. “Secondly, the reality of power is not in the hands of civilian authorities. In Algeria, it is common to call the military high command “the real power”. So the effort when it comes to change is extremely low. The stakes when it comes to display, for power, are extremely high ”.
According to the two analysts, the country therefore risks remaining in a political dead end. However, one question still awaits: the composition of the future National People’s Congress. Depending on the outcome of the vote, we will see what political forces surround Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Between the Islamists, the traditional parties in the Bouteflika era or the many independent candidates with uncertain affiliations.
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