Algerians Voting in First Elections Since Arab Spring

Posted May 10th, 2012 at 1:25 am (UTC-5)
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Algeria is holding its first elections since the Arab Spring, but distrust of promised government reforms could lead to low voter turnout.

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

In April 2011, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced a series of constitutional reforms in a bid to appease protesters who had staged several pro-democracy demonstrations.

He vowed to strengthen democratic conditions by changing electoral laws, ensuring free and fair elections and revising the constitution.

The government has admitted international election observers, for the first time, as part of efforts to boost transparency.

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

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