Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Algeria's Future Filled With Uncertainty

Last May, Algeria had its first elections since the Arab Spring had made its way across the region.  There was much excitement for many opposition parties and activists that they could reach, or come close to reaching, a majority, but after Algeria’s 50 year ruling National Liberation Front took 220 of the 462 parliament seats, cries of a rigged election rang out.

Leading up to the election the Algerian government had described the parliamentary contest as being Algeria’s ‘Spring.’ 500 international observers were invited and it was promised to be the freest election in 20 years.  However, after results showed that the Green Alliance only secured 48 seats in parliament, many argued that the results had been manipulated to keep them out of power in a country where violence between radical groups and government security forces has been going on for decades.  The Green Alliance was predicted to win 101 seats after collecting statistics and observing voting booths throughout the election, but finished in third behind the National Democratic Rally (68 seats) with only three-quarters of the number it had won in the 2007 election.

As we discussed in class with Tunisia, the international community has praised the election as making progress in the right direction while much of the Algerian community still see their country as corrupt, and they are feeling the effects personally.  While noting some shortcomings the EU mission’s monitor-in-chief described the election as being more transparent than previous elections.  Then, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton applauded the high number of women elected and that it showed a big step toward democratic reform. However, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index Algeria ranked 99 out of 179 countries in transparency in 2007 but dropped to 105 in 2012.

Now that the government, as the opposition believes, has missed an opportunity for a peaceful political transition to a democracy, along with the ruling parties success, it does not seem likely that change will occur in Algeria.  However, the legacy of the single-party has shown that it can be vulnerable to external shocks from opposition parties by allowing them some assemblance which is the case in Algeria. The assemblance of these opposition parties makes the government more vulnerable to protest and an overthrow of the regime.

For now, the Arab Spring chapter may be closed for Algeria, and the future is filled with uncertainty, but going forward it is crucial for the international community to continue to observe future elections to make sure they are as free and transparent as possible. It is also important that Western countries and international monitors don’t overlook the problems Algerian politics face just because they are holding elections and because these elections are “more transparent” than previous elections.
Works Cited
"Algeria - Corruption." Globalsecurity.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. <http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/algeria/corruption.htm>.
"Is Algeria Immune to the 'Arab Spring'?" Al Jazeera. N.p., 14 May 2012. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. <http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2012/05/201251465357500445.html>.
Ryan, Yasmine. "Algeria Waits for Election Results." Al Jazeera. N.p., 11 May 2012. Web. 7 Feb. 2013. <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/05/2012511102643600964.html>.    

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