Islamists expected to win Algeria's elections, breaking military's domination

Islamists expected to win Algeria's upcoming elections, breaking military's political domination
2 min read
22 April, 2021
Experts say Islamist parties will likely win Algeria's elections this June, which will mean breaking from a long history of secular military rule.
Bengrina won 1.5 million votes in his 2019 campaign. [Getty]
Experts believe Islamist parties could win elections in Algeria this June, breaking from a long history of secular military rule.

After the widespread popular uprisings demanding an overhaul of the country’s ruling elite, Islamist politicians are taking the chance to stand as a stark alternative to military rule, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

"We expect to be in the lead," said Abdelkader Bengrina, head of the Harakat al-Bina - the party which analysts say is "most likely" to win the election.

"In many instances the government showed it is unable to tackle the problems of daily life."

The party runs on a platform focused on the economy and effective leadership rather than imposing sharia law.

Bengrina - who won 1.5 million votes in his 2019 campaign - said his party will "address Algeria's political, economic and social problems".

While his campaign has not concentrated on social issues, women’s rights defenders have expressed concern over the future of women’s freedoms in the country.

Islamist movements could steal votes from nationalist parties due to their link with former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

"Islamist parties have acquired a huge political experience since the 1990s... political participation rather than confrontation is the trademark of Algeria's Islamist parties today," Mohamed Mouloudi, an Algerian political expert told Reuters.

This comes as Algeria faces huge political and economic crises, with the coronavirus pandemic adding to the woes of an oil-dependent economy.

A protest movement, known as Hirak, broke out in February 2019 in outrage at then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid for a fifth term in office.

The ailing strongman was forced to step down weeks later, but the movement continued with demonstrations, demanding a sweeping overhaul of a ruling system in place since Algeria's independence from France in 1962.

Since its second anniversary on 22 February, Hirak activists have started weekly Friday protests, suspended for almost a year due to the pandemic.

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