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2017 Election - National Assembly

The 04 May 2017 parliamentary poll will be the first since the legislature adopted landmark constitution reforms. Under the constitutional changes approved in February 2016, Algeria set up an independent election monitoring body and reinstated a two-term limit for the presidency. Parliament remained weak in terms of powers, but Islamist parties announced plans to join forces ahead of the election in a bid to reduce the influence of the main pro-government parties.

Algeria's parliament has been dominated by the National Liberation Front (FLN) since gaining independence in 1962. The FLN ruled in a single party system until the early 1990s. With its coalition ally the Rally for National Democracy (RND), the FLN had a majority of seats in the house. They are likely to keep their majority after other parties said they would boycott the polls. A total of 63 parties and many independent lists were competing for 462 seats in the lower house of parliament.

This was the first election in three decades when without the presence of head of military intelligence, General Mohamed Mediene, known as Toufik. The general was dismissed by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in September 2015. He had been an influential player on the political scene since 1990. Called a “kingmaker” or “Algeria’s Darth Vader”, Toufik was instrumental in the canceling of general elections in 1991 after the victory of Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), and had a hand in the military coup of 1992. Subsequently, he created and infiltrated political parties, supported politicians from both the government and the opposition, and manipulated elections results.

The 2017 electoral campaign was officially started on 09 April 2017. Over the following three weeks, 12,000 candidates vied for 462 seats in the People's National Assembly, with 23 million Algerians registered to vote. Government-sponsored advertisements play in a continuous loop on Algerian television in a bid to attract a larger turnout than about the 43 percent who voted in last legislative poll in 2012. Many Algerians don’t believe in elections, especially for parliament, since the president holds ultimate power.

Political parties in Algeria geared up for parliamentary elections on May 4. But on certain campaign posters, female candidates were printed without faces, unlike male candidates. The resulting outpouring of criticism forced the election authority to require the offending political parties change their posters. The daily newspaper El Watan wrote, "the phenomenal appearance of 'faceless candidates' was illustrative of the unexpected progress of Islamist ideals in society". The guilty parties came from a wide political landscape and included the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), the Ennahda-Adala-Bina Union (Islamist), the Algerian National Front (FNA, nationalist), the Algerian Front for Development, Liberty and Justice (FADLJ, Islamist) and the National Militancy Front (FMN).

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said on 29 April 2017 that the parliamentary elections on May 4 will be fair and free, urging people to vote actively to contribute to the stability of the country. “Your massive participation in the upcoming elections will be your contribution to the country’s stability, and to the deepening of democracy and the development of our country,” Bouteflika said in a letter to the nation. The president also promised to guarantee transparent and free elections, in response to claims by some opposition parties that the elections are rigged. “You will be choosing among a thousand of lists of political parties and independent candidates across the provinces of the country and in electoral constituencies overseas,” he said.

The party of Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and its coalition ally have won a clear majority in parliamentary elections, according to the interior ministry. Bouteflika's National Liberation Front (FLN) won 164 of the national assembly's 462 seats in a poll overshadowed by low turnout, public disillusionment over a tepid economy and allegations of political corruption.

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