Low Interest Plagues Algerian Vote

Posted May 10th, 2012 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

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 boost transparency.

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.