Algeria upcoming election will not instigate change

 Algeria upcoming election will not instigate change

Algeria’s upcoming election will not instigate purposeful change

Islamabad, 12June: Snap election will be held in Algeria to elect 407 members to the People’s General Assembly, the lower house of the country’s parliament.

The vote was initially scheduled to take place in 2022, but President Abdelmadjid Tabboune moved the election date forward in response to ongoing anti-government protests in the country.

A protest movement, known as Hirak, emerged in Algeria in 2019 in response to the announcement of then-President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s candidacy for a fifth presidential mandate. Weekly mass protests led Bouteflika, who had been in power since 1999, to step down in April 2019.

Bouteflika’s departure from the political scene, however, did not mark the end of this grassroots movement. Protesters continued to regularly take to the streets, this time demanding a complete overhaul of the political system, which – notably – would involve the distancing from the political sphere of the country’s all-powerful military.

The Hirak movement’s protests largely came to a halt in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the protests returned with full force in February 2021, after the country managed to bring the outbreak under relative control.

In recent months, the economic fallout from COVID-19 and the fall in oil prices led to a rise in unemployment and a significant decrease in the buying power of Algerians, heightening further protests. The government’s recent crackdown on dissenting voices, including members of the Hirak movement, also increased unrest.

The military leadership, which is unwilling to concede to the public’s demands for a truly civil and democratic state, has attempted to contain the unrest through varying levels of repression as well as political tactics such as a constitutional amendment in 2020. And the upcoming snap legislative election is another effort by the military-controlled regime to ease tensions.

However, the Hirak movement and many political actors in Algeria swiftly rejected the show election. And, as demonstrated by ongoing protests and growing public criticism of the state, a significant portion of the Algerian population seems to agree.

As a result, a majority of the population is expected to boycott the upcoming election. Moreover, despite promises to remain neutral, the military will likely have a say in which parties rise to power after the election. In Algeria, it is still very difficult to imagine a scenario in which a party wins the majority against the wishes of the military.

It is even more improbable that, following the election, the power dynamics in Algeria will change so far as to allow any political actor or body to challenge or check the military’s significant powers. Consequently, it is highly unlikely for the June 12 election to instigate any real change in the country.

Web Desk

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