Algerians hold local elections amid anger over rising prices

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

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

Some 23 million registered voters are invited to choose mayors and representatives in regional assemblies on Saturday. More than 134,000 candidates are vying for the various seats.

However, some 300,000 requests were rejected by the electoral authorities, accused of being associated with criminal circles or “dirty money”. Opposition parties protested the move as unfair.

Turnout appeared low in the polling stations on Saturday morning in Algiers.

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The candidates traveled by caravan to meet with voters, but the campaign as a whole met with widespread indifference. Algerians “do not have the heart to vote while for the majority of them the daily bread and the carton of milk become problematic for them, because of the collapse of the purchasing power”, estimates the sociologist Nasser. Djabbi.

Parliament, where Tebboune’s party has the most seats, recently passed a 2022 budget that cuts subsidies on some basic goods and for housing, health and education. Teachers and unions staged strikes to protest the price hikes.

The leader of the Jil Djadid (New Generation) party urged voters to move by declaring: “The higher the participation rate, the stronger and more legitimate the future elected will be to implement their electoral program.

But opposition leader Mohcine Bélabbas, president of the Rassemblement pour la culture et la democratie party, described the entire electoral process as “illegal”.

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The election also takes place as Algeria’s relations with France and Morocco currently face unprecedented tensions.

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