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Algerian press says new parliament

BBC Monitoring

Algerian newspapers today described the new parliament as lacking "credibility and legitimacy" as a result of the very low turnout, officially at 35.51 per cent of the registered voters, in the 17 May legislative elections.

    Up to 18 million eligible voters from Algeria's 33 million people cast ballots for the parliament, choosing from 12,229 candidates for a five-year term, with independents and 24 political parties competing for 389 seats. The ruling coalition won the elections, with 136 seats for the National Liberation Front (FLN), 61 seats for the pro-business Democratic National Rally (RND) and 52 seats for the moderate Islamist Movement of Society for Peace (MSP).

    "With 35 per cent of the votes, the future National People's Assembly [APN] will have difficulties speaking on behalf of all the Algerians," says the independent French-language daily El Watan. This parliament "lacks credibility, indeed legitimacy, with no party having a dominant position," says the paper. "To put it simply, this means a democratic regression," El Watan says, adding that "with a structural incompetence to oversee the very few actions of the government and public authorities, the APN has done nothing to deserve the confidence of the citizens".

    The independent French-language daily Liberte says in the same vein that "the results of the elections constitute a kind of defiance towards the political class which is now more than ever before required to ring the alarm bells and engage in a soul-searching operation". For the Algerians, the parliament "is nothing more than a rubber-stamping instrument", says Liberte, noting that the low turnout "reflects the bankruptcy of the current political system". "Political figures, whether from the left, right or centre, are no longer capable of convincing the voters," says Liberte.

    The French-language daily Le Quotidien D'oran takes a different view and sees in the low turnout "a request for political change that is largely shared" by the voters. "It is true that abstention is also a form of desperation towards a change that is taking a long time to happen. This is a real danger," says Le Quotidien d'Oran. "But the Algerians are in fact waiting for a genuine return of polity, a genuine change and a political emancipation. The message is crystal clear," notes the paper.

    Even the government-owned daily newspaper El Moudjahid believes this change is necessary, saying that "the 65 per cent of the Algerians [who did not vote] have said that they are not satisfied with the way the current parliament is taking their demands into account". "They are not satisfied with the way the MPs behave towards them and made it clear to them by deciding not to turn up en masse at the ballot boxes," El Moudjahid says. The paper notes that "the MP runs the risk of loosing his [or her] credit for good if he does not fulfil his constitutional obligations, if he does not listen permanently to the voters, if he does not commit fully to his obligations". "The message of the 65 per cent of voters who did not cast their ballots is very clear: The MPs should work and listen, because they represent the people," says El Moudjahid.

    Source: As listed




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