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1 May 2017
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Algeria 2012 Parliamentary Elections

Party Leader Last election Seats won Seats change
FLN Abdelaziz Belkhadem 136 seats, 23.0% 220 +84
RND Ahmed Ouyahia 61 seats, 10.3% 68 +7
Green Alliance Bouguerra Soltani 60 seats, 15.6% 48 -12


Forty-four political parties took part in Algeria’s latest Parliamentary election – about 25 800 candidates took part in the polls, more than double the number who stood in 2007 – however, despite the elections being billed as more free and transparent than ever before, there was a low voter turnout, with many correspondents reporting that polling stations were largely deserted. This was attributed to a voter apathy and a feeling among many Algerians that the election would do little to ease unemployment and housing shortages in this oil and gas-rich nation.

The two parties in the ruling coalition – the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Democratic Rally (RND) – and a new coalition, Green Algeria alliance, comprising three Islamist parties, namely the Movement of Society for Peace (MSP), which recently left the tripartite ruling alliance, the Islamic Renaissance Movement (Ennahda) and the National Reform Movement. were expected to take the majority of the vote.

However, the Green Algeria alliance did poorly in the voting, contrary to analysts’ predictions and the experience of Algeria’s neighbours in the wake of last year’s Arab Spring. The country’s governing party, the FLN, gained almost half the seats in Parliament,

The Algerian government welcomed observers from the European Union, African Union and other organisations, but denied them access to the national election list.

Authorities faced significant challenges to ensure that the election was not marred by demonstrations and violent protests.

Electoral System
Algeria has a bicameral Parliament. The President is elected by absolute majority vote through a two-round system to serve a five-year term. The Prime Minister is appointed by the President.

In the Council of the Nation, 96 members are indirectly elected by an electoral college to serve five-year terms and 48 members are appointed by the President to serve six-year terms.

With pressure to reform after 2011’s "Arab Spring" in the region, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika approved the establishment of 23 new political parties and an increase in the number of seats in the National People’s Assembly to 462 for the 2012 elections.

Through a closed-list proportional representation system the 462 members will be elected to serve five-year terms.

Election unrest
African countries show a high probability of experiencing election unrest and Algeria was no exception. Algerian authorities reportedly used arrests and other strategies to keep people from demonstrating in the capital Algiers in the period leading up to the May 10 elections.

Several clashes between security forces and religious groups like the Islamists were reported. Security forces detained citizens who participated in peaceful demonstrations in the capital. They also prevented any potential perpetrators from entering the city. Human Rights Watch mentioned media censorship and repression of suspected Islamists as some of the challenges that voters had to face. The organisation also condemned a wide range of human rights violations in the North African country.

Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front triumphs
The ruling National Liberation Party triumphed in the polls, adding 84 seats to the initial 136. The party that ruled Algeria for 50 years now has a total of 220 seats in the national assembly.

The ally of the ruling National Liberation Front, the National Rally for Democracy (NRD), came second with 68 seats; they added seven seats to the initial 61. The party cited possible fraud in the polls as a reason behind their defeat.

After a rosy election campaign, the Green Alliance could not get any new seats in this year’s parliamentary elections. They came out with 48 of the 60 seats they had before the polls. The Islamist party says the election results are very different from what their observers told them. They accused the administration of tampering with the results in favour of the FLN and the RND. They have since threatened a revolt.

Nine opposition parties issued a joint statement saying they rejected the results, as they did not reflect the promised of free and fair elections. They also vowed to boycott parliament and called for a review of the results.

While there there were some shortcomings in some technical aspects of the election and unrest ahead of the elections, observers granted a qualified endorsement.

Bouteflika is expected to continue as President until 2014, but at 75 is increasingly frail and unlikely to run for a fourth term. Nervous of the repercussions of the Arab Spring elsewhere, he has increased funding for unemployed young Algerians hoping to start their own businesses – the unemployment rate has dropped since he came to power, but is over 20% among university leavers.

The representation of women in the country’s national assembly has also increased significantly.

Bouteflika says he will present the new Parliament with a series of constitutional reforms next year. It seems that Algeria, according to its officials, has embarked on its own democratic transition—at its own pace.

BBC. Algeria votes in Parliamentary elections (May 10, 2012)
BBC. Algeria MPs stage Parliamentary walkout over ‘fraud’ (May 26, 2012).
The Economist. Still waiting for real democracy (May 12, 2012).
The New York Times. Algerian election results draw disbelief (May 11, 2012).

Edited by: Sheila Barradas
Creamer Media Research Coordinator & Senior Deputy Editor
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