Voter apathy as Algeria goes to the polls

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Voter apathy as Algeria goes to the polls

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Algerians are electing a new parliament that officials say will bring democracy to a country largely unaffected by the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions in the region. However many voters are showing their scepticism by staying away.

Some 500 foreign observers are monitoring the ballot, billed by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s ageing establishment as more transparent than ever before. Algerian elections have, for years, been dogged by claims of fraud.

Yet for disillusioned voters, many of them young, promises of reform are hollow and the status quo is not about to change.

“Frankly, I am not expecting anything from Algerian politics,” said Aida, a university student in Algiers. “I am not interested because everything is already decided so there is no politics at all.”

“There are no jobs,” complained Karim, a resident of the capital. “All the young people are in prison. They are asking me to vote. No I won’t.”

Moderate Islamists with close ties to the power in place are expected to come out on top in a poll that many Algerians think is pointless.