2019 Algerian presidential election
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The 2019 Algerian presidential election was held in Algeria on 12 December 2019. The election had originally been scheduled for 18 April, but was postponed due to sustained weekly protests against plans by the incumbent president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to run for a fifth term. Bouteflika resigned on 2 April and Abdelkader Bensalah was elected acting president by parliament a week later. On 10 April the election was rescheduled for 4 July. On 2 June the Constitutional Council postponed the elections again, citing a lack of candidates. A new electoral authority, Autorité nationale indépendante des élections (ANIE), was created in mid-September as an alternative to the existing Haute instance indépendante de surveillance des élections (HIISE) defined by the 2016 constitution. The election was rescheduled for 12 December 2019 and ANIE, of disputed constitutional validity, announced five valid candidates on 2 November. In their 200000 strong protest on 1 November, Algerian protestors rejected the 12 December election and called for a radical change in the system to take place first. The Forces of the Democratic Alternative (FDA) alliance and the Justice and Development Front also called for boycotting the 12 December election, and the FDA called for creating a constituent assembly.
The Algerian Constitution of 2016 created the Haute instance indépendante de surveillance des élections (HIISE) to have overall responsibility for organising elections. For the third attempt to organise the 2019 presidential election, the Algerian lower and upper houses of parliament created the Autorité nationale indépendante des élections (ANIE). Lawyer Faïz Moussi and constitutional expert Ahmed Betatache described the procedures for creating ANIE as rushed and unconstitutional. Fouad Makhlouf, secretary-general of HIISE, had stated earlier, in April 2019, that the replacement of HIISE's role by an alternative electoral body would be unconstitutional.
Early 2019 protests and internet censorship
On 22 February 2019, protests took place in Algiers, Oran, Sétif, Annaba and other Algerian cities over Bouteflika's bid to continue for a fifth term. Algerians reported difficulty accessing online services and the NetBlocks internet observatory published technical evidence of multiple targeted internet disruptions at demonstration flashpoints in Tizi Ouzou and around Algiers.
18 April 2019 cancelled election
On 3 March 2019, a day after his 82nd birthday and while undergoing medical tests in Switzerland, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika formally submitted his candidacy, but said in a statement read on state TV that he would not serve a full term if re-elected. Instead, he promised to organise a national conference and set a date for an early election which he would not participate in. The announcement followed weeks of protests against his plan to seek a fifth term in office. A week later, on 11 March 2019, Bouteflika withdrew from the race and postponed the election.
4 July 2019 cancelled election
The 4 July 2019 election had two candidates who applied: Abdelhakim Hamadi from Jijel, born 23 August 1965, who trained as a vet, worked in the state sector and became a businessman; and Hamid Touahri, an aeronautical mechanical engineer who worked in medical sales and construction and managed an audiovisual production firm. Both candidates' applications were lodged on 25 May, and later rejected by the Constitutional Council, which cancelled the election due to what it called the "impossibility" of organising the election.
12 December 2019 election
Potential candidates Ahmed Gaid Salah and Noureddine Bedoui won't run.[clarification needed] Former prime minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem was expected to be a candidate. The Tajamou Amel El-Djazaïr former minister Amar Ghoul (in prison at the time) announced his participation in the vote.
145 people picked up their application forms, including:
- Ali Benflis, former head of government;
- Abdelaziz Belaid, president of the El Moustakbal Front;
- Aissa Belhadi, president of the Front of Good Governance;
- Abdelkader Bengrina, president of the El-Bina Movement;
- Ali Zeghdoud, president of the Algerian Rally party;
- Mourad Arroudj, president of Errafah;
- Belkacem Sahli, president of the Republican National Alliance;
- Abdelmadjid Tebboune, former Prime Minister;
- Rabah Bencherif;
- Azzedine Mihoubi, former Minister of Culture;
- Rabah Bencherif;
- Souleymen Bakhlili, journalist;
- Ahmed Ben Nâamane, writer;
- Abderrahmane Arrar, coordinator of the Civil Force for Change.
The five candidates announced by Mohamed Chorfi, head of the electoral authority, on 2 November 2019 are:
- former prime minister under Bouteflika, Abdelmadjid Tebboune
- former prime minister under Bouteflika, Ali Benflis
- former culture minister Azzedine Mihoubi
- former tourism minister Abdelkader Bengrina
- head of the El Moustakbal Front, Abdelaziz Belaïd.
Al Jazeera English described the five candidates as "all part of the political establishment", whose departure from power is one of the main aims of the 2019 Algerian protests. Thomson Reuters described the candidates as "men on the ballot [who] all have close links with the establishment, and though some of them pushed for reforms, many still see them as part of an entrenched, unchanging elite."
In the weekly protests that continued the early 2019 protests that led to Bouteflika dropping his candidacy for the initially scheduled election and resigning from the presidency, twenty thousand protestors called for the 12 December election to be boycotted on the grounds that the system of people in power under Bouteflika remained in place. In the 1 November 2019 demonstration of two hundred thousand demonstrators, on the 37th Friday weekly protest, demonstrators called for all members of the system of power in place to be dismissed and for a radical change in the political system. They rejected the 12 December election, with slogans describing it as "an election with the gangs" and as an "election organised by a corrupt power [which] is a trap for idiots" (French: les élections d’un pouvoir corrompu est un piège à cons).
Prominent individuals and organisations
Former prime minister Ahmed Benbitour, former minister Abdelaziz Rahabi, Ali Fawzi Rebaine, Mohamed Said and Rachid Nekkaz, announced that they are not candidates because of the political climate.
On 28 September, Abdallah Djaballah, president of the Justice and Development Front, announced that his party will not take part in the elections. This was followed by the Society for Peace Movement, which made a similar decision for the same reasons.
The Forces of the Democratic Alternative, a coalition including the Socialist Forces Front (FFS), the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), the Workers' Party (PT), the Socialist Workers Party (PST), the Union for Change and Progress (UCP), the Democratic and Social Movement (MDS), the Party for Secularism and Democracy (PLD) and the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH), announced their refusal to participate in the vote.
In September, 56 mayors in Kabylie stated that they would refuse to organise the practical aspects of the 12 December election in their municipalities and would do everything in their power to prevent the election taking place.
Convocation and candidate validation
- September 2019: Convocation of the electorate by the Acting Head of State
- 26 October 2019: Deadline for applications
- 2 November 2019: Validation and publication of the list of qualified candidates by ANIE
- 9 November 2019: Validation and publication of the list of candidates by the Constitutional Council
The official campaign period is from 17 November 2019, the opening of the election campaign, to 8 December 2019, the final day on which campaigning is allowed.
On 17 November, the day that the five candidates opened their campaigns, protestors objecting to the election, perceiving it as a continuation of the same group of people retaining political power, posted sacks of garbage on panels allocated for presidential candidates' campaign posters. Protestor Smain described the symbolism by stating that the election "is completely rejected ... as garbage".
- 12 December 2019: First round.
Preliminary results showed that former Prime Minister and Minister of Housing Abdelmadjid Tebboune won the election in the first round, leading his nearest opponent (Abdelkader Bengrina of the Islamist El Binaa party) by over 40% of the valid votes. The official estimate of the turnout of just under 40% of eligible voters was the lowest of any Algerian presidential election held since independence, primarily due to boycotts by citizens and political parties alike. The Rally for Culture and Democracy estimated the turnout five times lower, at 8%. The low turnout, as well as the relatively high number of spoiled ballots out of those who did participate, was seen as a continuation of the pro-democracy protests that preceded the resignation of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as all approved candidates in the election were seen as members of the political establishment.
|Abdelkader Bengrina||El Binaa||1,477,836||17.37|
|Ali Benflis||Talaie El Houriyate||897,831||10.55|
|Azzedine Mihoubi||Democratic National Rally||619,225||7.28|
|Abdelaziz Belaïd||Future Front||568,000||6.67|
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