Algeria’s Presidential election

Algeria’s Presidential election
Lonzo Cook

Algeria is bracing for a significant political moment as presidential elections are set to take place this September. With the country standing at a crossroads, these elections could shape the nation’s future trajectory amidst widespread calls for reform and economic challenges. 

Since gaining independence from France in 1962, Algeria has been marked by political turbulence and social unrest. The Hirak movement, which began in February 2019, epitomized the widespread discontent among Algerians with the political establishment. The movement, characterized by massive weekly protests, successfully ousted long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who had been in power for two decades. Despite his resignation, the movement's demand for a complete overhaul of the political system remains largely unfulfilled.

The upcoming elections are seen by many as a critical test for the legitimacy and responsiveness of the Algerian government. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, elected in December 2019 in a controversial election with a record low turnout, has promised political and economic reforms. However, his administration has been criticized for failing to deliver substantial changes and for suppressing dissent. While Tebboune has not yet formally announced his candidacy, it is widely speculated that he will run for re-election.

Algeria's economy, heavily reliant on hydrocarbon exports, faces significant challenges. The fall in oil prices, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has severely impacted the nation’s revenues. High unemployment, especially among the youth, and rising inflation have further strained the socioeconomic fabric. President Tebboune's government has outlined ambitious economic reforms aimed at diversifying the economy, reducing dependence on oil and gas, and encouraging foreign investment. However, these measures have been slow to materialize, and skepticism remains high among the populace. The election campaign will likely focus on these economic issues, with candidates presenting their visions for addressing the deep-rooted structural problems.

The political landscape in Algeria is fragmented, with numerous parties and factions vying for influence. The traditional ruling parties, the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy (RND), have lost significant support. Meanwhile, new political movements and independent candidates are emerging, reflecting the public's desire for fresh faces and new ideas. Among the prominent candidates is Abdelaziz Belaid, leader of the Front El Moustakbal party, who has positioned himself as a reformist. Another notable contender is Ali Benflis, a former prime minister and veteran politician, who promises to restore stability and implement gradual reforms. Additionally, the Hirak movement, although not officially represented, continues to influence the political discourse, pushing for greater transparency and democratic governance.

The European Union and other international stakeholders are closely monitoring the electoral process, hoping for a credible outcome.

 *Lonzo Cook is a journalist and writer. He spent two decades at CNN in a series of senior editorial and management roles including leading breaking news operations across Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. In addition to writing on international affairs, national security and business, he works with media companies and corporations on how to evolve and create content to stay relevant to key audiences.

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