Accessibility links

Low Voter Turnout Plagues Algerian Vote

  • VOA News

Algerians walk past electoral posters in Algiers, Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Algerians walk past electoral posters in Algiers, Wednesday, May 9, 2012.

Algeria is holding its first elections since the Arab Spring, but distrust of promised government reforms is leading to low voter turnout.

Voters are casting ballots Thursday for the 462-member parliament. About half of the 44 political parties competing were legalized this year.

The vote follows a series of constitutional reforms announced by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in a bid to appease pro-democracy protesters. The government has admitted international election observers for the first time as part of efforts to increase transparency.

Key Steps to Algerian Elections:

Sept. 2005: Vote grants partial amnesty for Islamic militants

April 2009: President Bouteflika wins third term

Feb. 2011: State of emergency lifted as Arab Spring uprisings spread

April 2011: Bouteflika vows reforms, constitutional revisions

March 2012: Front of Socialist Forces ends election boycott

April 2012: al Qaeda calls for parliamentary election boycott

Still, younger Algerians who comprise a majority of the population were expected to boycott the elections because of lingering concerns about credibility and fairness.

Some voters quoted by foreign media say they have little reason to go to the polls, saying the outcome will make no difference.

Polling stations opened Thursday with state television showing voters pouring in.

But a 30-year-old Algerian told the French news agency that the election coverage on the state television was out of touch with reality, saying it was "like news from a foreign country."

Analysts say Islamist parties are expected to gain ground in Thursday's voting, a move that would echo gains in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt.

Results are not expected until at least Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
XS
SM
MD
LG