Proliferation of Parties in Algeria Aids Ruling FLN in Local Races

Algerian sources have said that Algeria will not invite international observers to monitor the local elections in November, noting that there have not been calls for observers from parties taking part in the vote.

Following a report issued by European observers who monitored the most recent legislative elections, opposition parties no longer desire for an observer team to come again. They claim that this previous report failed to mention serious violations, which were noted by a number of parties.

The upcoming local elections are expected to witness a match-up between about 60 political parties, at least 20 more than in the previous elections. In a single week, the Algerian government accredited and licensed 17 new parties. However, the Tadjamou Amel Al-Djazair (TAJ) Party, which is headed by Ammar Ghoul and split from the Islamist Movement for the Society of Peace just weeks ago, is still awaiting licensing.

The government has granted accreditation to three new parties and licensed 14 other parties. These parties will hold their inaugural conferences in three months, as a result of a temporary freeze on their licensing because of the upcoming legislative elections.

It is believed that these new parties will directly enter the local electoral races. Every time the number of parties increases, the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) doubles it chances of gaining a majority in local councils, since the law stipulates that a party must receive at least 7% of the vote to win a seat.

In the past few hours, the Ministry of the Interior released the names of the seven new parties. These parties received licensing after releasing a preliminary list of candidates and fulfilling the necessary legal conditions to hold their inaugural conferences.

The seven new parties include: the National Front Party (headed by Hadad Abdullah), the Union for Change and Prosperity (headed by Assoul Zoubeida), the Democratic Youth Front for Citizenship (headed by Koreia Ahmed), the National Unity and Development Party (headed by Daif Mohammed), the Republic Defense Party (headed by Jidiyani Mohammed), the Algeria Loyalists Party (headed by Mursi Saed) and the National Front for Originality and Freedoms (headed by Jeljili Abdul Hamed).

It is believed that the ruling party will not face strong competition given the current formations within the opposition. Many view the new parties as merely “support councils” in the vast array of parties, since the majority of their leaders are former heads of organizations that supported “President Bouteflika’s program.”

Many of the political parties are deciding whether to enter the local elections, and at least three Islamist parties in the “Green Algeria Bloc” are considering boycotting these elections.

The upcoming elections for local councils will include 1,541 municipalities and 48 provincial councils. These elections are very important given that they will ultimately determine two thirds of the seats in the Council of the Nation — the upper house of the Algerian Parliament — where two-thirds of the representatives are renewed based on the vote of “senior voters” who are these locally elected officials.

However, the election law — as amended by the “reform package” — only further complicates the electoral process, as was evidenced in the legislative elections in May. By law, independent parties must receive at least 7% of the vote to win seats. Article 66 of the election law states: “When distributing seats, we will not take into account any candidates who do not receive 7% of the votes cast.”

Parties that are close to power are trying to establish their dominance in these councils. Ahmed Ouyahia, the secretary-general of the National Rally for Democracy (RND), called on two candidates from his party to “mobilize and unite” during local elections, saying that the RND “possesses all of the qualifications necessary for success in the electoral contests.”

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