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Situation Assessment 17 June, 2021

Algeria's Legislative Elections: Reproducing Regime, or a Step towards a New Algeria?

The Unit for Political Studies

The Unit for Political Studies is the Center’s department dedicated to the study of the region’s most pressing current affairs. An integral and vital part of the ACRPS’ activities, it offers academically rigorous analysis on issues that are relevant and useful to the public, academics and policy-makers of the Arab region and beyond. The Unit for Policy Studies draws on the collaborative efforts of a number of scholars based within and outside the ACRPS. It produces three of the Center’s publication series: Situation Assessment, Policy Analysis, and Case Analysis reports. 


On 12 June, Algeria held early legislative elections, called by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune in February after the People's National Assembly (Parliament) was dissolved. These elections are the third electoral process to take place since the beginning of the Hirak pro-democracy movement in February 2019 that led to the resignation of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. They were preceded by the presidential elections of December 2019, which President Tebboune won, and the 1 November 2020 referendum on amending the constitution.

Election Law and Context

The elections were held under the new electoral law issued on 10 March 2021. The law includes some promises that the authority has made, such as empowering youth and women to participate in politics, and fighting the “corruption money” that has long distorted the electoral process. Article 191 stipulates that lists running for elections must “observe the principle of parity between women and men, and allocate, at least, half of the nominations to candidates under the age of forty years, with at least one third of the list’s candidates having a university education.” This law also defines the permissible sources of funding for the electoral campaign (Article 87), which is supervised by the Independent National Election Authority (Article 26) through a committee that monitors the financing of election campaign accounts. Article 88 also states that it is prohibited for any candidate to “receive, directly or indirectly, gifts in cash or in kind or any other contribution, whatever its form, from any foreign country or any person of a foreign nationality.”

In addition, Article 191 stipulates that the election shall take place “by proportional voting on the open list, and by preferential voting without mixing.” This means that the chances of the candidates are supposed to be equal, because the open list system gives the voter the freedom to arrange the candidates of one list, unlike the closed list system, which imposes the order determined by the party in the list on the voter.

Many parties participated in the elections, including the national movements such as the National Liberation Front (FLN), the Democratic National Rally (RND), Islamist parties like The Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP), the Islamic Renaissance Movement (MRI), The Justice and Development Front (FJD) and the Movement for National Reform (MRN), new parties like Talaie El Houriyet and Jil Jadid. Other parties, affiliated with the democratic current, boycotted the elections on the grounds that the conditions for organizing free and transparent elections were not met, which was also the view of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS) and the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), the most prominent traditional opposition forces in Algeria, in addition to the leftist Workers Party (PT).

The popular Hirak movement, whose activity declined over 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, before resuming in February 2021, began to change its positions on government initiatives. Part of the movement believes that the regime is reproducing itself through electoral processes in which the conditions for integrity are not met, and that the army is still in control of the decision-making apparatus. Another part of the popular movement sees that participation in elections does not contradict popular rallies as a mechanism for protest and continued demands for change. The government in turn considers that the current protests have nothing to do with the "original movement" and do not express its demands, most of which have been responded to.