Voter turnout at Algeria’s parliamentary elections on Saturday indicate only few people voted.
Two years after mass demonstrations forced a long-sitting president to step down in the North African country’s biggest political crisis, the authorities continue to struggle to quell the protest movement.
Saturday’s vote follows a presidential election in 2019 and a referendum on an amended constitution last year, but many Algerians still think real power is wielded by the army and security forces.
The election authority said only 3.78% of voters had cast ballots two hours after polls opened. By comparison, some 7.92% had voted three hours into the 2019 presidential election, when final turnout was 40%.
President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said decisions were made by the majority of those who voted, regardless of turnout.
A schoolteacher Ali Djemai, 33, who started queuing early to cast his vote in the city hopes the next parliament will be a force pressing for change that the majority want.
Riot police guarded polling stations in the Kabylie region where activists sought to burn ballot boxes and some voting centers closed early.
The “Hirak” protest movement that forced Abdelaziz Bouteflika from the presidency two years ago wants to oust the old ruling elite and stop the army interfering in politics. It sees any elections before that as a charade.
Samir Belarbi, a prominent Hirak figure pointed out that “… elections will not give the regime legitimacy, and repression and arrests will not stop the people’s peaceful revolution.”
Though the government publicly welcomed Hirak as a movement of national renewal and jailed senior former officials, police also cracked down on it with arrests.