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2009 Election - President

Presidential elections took place in April 2009. To the surprise of no one, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected to a third term on April 9. Election observers from the Arab League, African Union, and Organization of the Islamic Conference stated in a press conference that the 09 April 2009 election was fair and transparent. The carefully choreographed and heavily controlled election produced official results the main opposition leader called "Brezhnevian." Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni announced in a press conference on April 10 that a record 74.54 percent of over 20 million eligible voters participated in the election, with Bouteflika receiving 90.24 percent of the votes. Opposition parties and defeated candidates have placed actual turnout figures at between 18 and 55 percent, while informal US Embassy observations indicated that the vast majority of polling stations were empty across the capital, with actual turnout at 25-30 percent at most.

After the final vote tally, Zerhouni said Bouteflika landed 90.24 percent of the vote, followed by Worker's Party (PT) candidate Louisa Hanoune with a distant 4.22 percent, the Algerian National Front's (FNA) Moussa Touati with 2.31 percent, El Islah's Djahid Younsi with 1.37 percent, Ali Fouzi Rebaine of Ahd 54 with 0.93 percent, and Mohamed Said of the unregistered Party for Liberty and Justice (PLJ) in last place with 0.92 percent.

As many observers here predicted before the election, the official turnout figure has stirred more controversy than the election result itself. Two hours after the polls closed on election day, Zerhouni put turnout at 74.11 percent, revising the number slightly upward the next day. State-run television (ENTV) and the pages of the regime newspaper El Moudjahid ran images depicting crowds of voters queuing outside Algiers polling stations. But anecdotal reports of voter activity suggested Zerhouni's figure to be greatly exaggerated. The crowds of voters on state media appeared dressed for cold weather, while April 9 was generally warm and sunny, suggesting that officials used archive footage from previous elections. The opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) charged that at several polling stations, the Interior Ministry bussed in loyal voters such as plainclothes police to create an optic that matched the desired turnout result.

Some international experts commented that observers monitored only election-day procedures and were not on the ground to evaluate preelection activities. Others noted that the complexity of some election procedures created room for fraud and government influence. Two opposition parties, the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) and the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), boycotted the election, arguing that restrictions on freedom of association disadvantaged potential challengers and made the outcome of the election a foregone conclusion. The LADDH pointed to a lack of critical debate in the media and favorable treatment of the incumbent by state-owned media.

There were complaints during the three-week campaign period that public areas dedicated to election propaganda did not display each candidate's materials equally. Some candidates reported interference from local election committees when organizing meetings with voters and filed complaints with the National Election Commission. On March 21, the Party of Liberty and Justice (PLJ) reported that one of its campaign buses was vandalized by a group of youths as PLJ's candidate left a meeting with supporters in the Algiers suburb of Bab El Oued. On March 29, authorities arrested an FFS official in Tizi Ouzou for distributing pamphlets calling for a boycott of the election. On April 4, police blocked a group of RCD party members who attempted to march in an Algiers suburb to encourage voters to boycott the election. In general all candidates received equal access to television and radio media as stipulated in the electoral code.

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