Algerians hold local elections amid anger over price hikes

Algerians hold local elections amid anger over price hikes

Algeria – Algerians will vote on Saturday to elect mayors and regional leaders amid widespread concern and frustration over rising prices for basic goods, housing and health care.

The government hopes the elections will confirm its support for President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who won the election after ousting his predecessor in 2019 in pro-democracy protests backed by the army chief. But many Algerians see Tebboune’s leadership as a cosmetic change and are deeply disillusioned with politics.

About 23 million registered voters were asked to choose mayors and representatives on regional councils on Saturday. More than 134 thousand candidates are competing for various seats.

However, some 300,000 applications were rejected by electoral authorities, accused of links to criminal circles or “dirty money”. Opposition parties protested the move, describing it as unfair.

Turnout appeared low at polling stations Saturday morning in Algiers.

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Candidates traveled in caravans to meet voters, but the campaign in general was met with widespread indifference. Sociologist Nasser Djabi said Algerians “have no heart to vote while for most of them daily bread and a carton of milk becomes a problem because of the collapse of purchasing power.”

Parliament, in which Tebboune’s party has the most seats, recently voted on the 2022 budget that reduces subsidies on some basic goods, housing, health and education. Teachers and unions staged strikes to protest the price hike.

The leader of the New Generation (New Generation) party urged voters to participate, saying: “The higher the turnout, the stronger and more legitimate the elected officials will be in the future to put their electoral platform into action.”

But opposition leader Mohsen Belabbas, head of the Rally for Culture and Democracy party, described the entire electoral process as “illegal”.

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The elections are also taking place at a time when Algeria’s relations with France and Morocco are currently facing unprecedented tension.

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