Algeria is about to experience an election like no other. Taking place in the wake of the Arab Spring, the forthcoming poll should enable Algeria to implement the necessary reforms to transition to democracy without any violence or damage.
But the spectre of abstention that threatens this vote is raising concern about a loss of credibility and isolation of the current regime. As a matter of fact, President Bouteflika made a personal commitment to an awareness campaign to promote massive participation in the May 10th vote. The president even went as far as likening this electoral event to the self-determination referendum that established the independence of Algeria in 1962.
Algeria, as an exception, can be explained by several factors, starting with the fact that it has already experienced its “Springs” in the middle of the 80s; the most significant of which was in October, 1988.
Algeria was the first Arab country to experience the rule of the Islamists. The country witnessed radical speeches and threats of all kinds, including some by those who considered democracy as “heresy” and those who swore only by the construction of an Islamic State.
The interruption of this short democratic experience resulted in the emergence of the terrorist phenomenon, which still continues to take lives today. Algerian people did not forget this, do not want to forget this, nor do they want to live it again.
The Arab Spring certainly allowed the Islamist parties in Algeria to think confidently. A legitimate ambition, but, in reality, it does not reflect trends in Algerian public opinion.
According to the latest poll in El Watan, there will not be a landslide victory for Islamists on May 10th, even though it does confirm that the participation rate could exceed 44 per cent.
It is clear, however, that these elections are more than a simple electoral process. They should enable the Algerian people to show renewed commitment to the stability and the development of their country.
The threat of terrorism is still present and usually expresses itself dramatically during major political events.
But this threat is now compounded by the explosive situation at the southern border of the country, resulting in the need to coordinate the efforts with the international community in order to bring stability in the Sahel region.
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