L’enfant essaya mais en vain.
-Et ça veut dire quoi, Ouria?
–Ça veut dire: liberté.
C’est trop dur à dire, la liberté, en arabe.
Le Quai aux Fleurs ne répond plus, Malek Haddad.
The April elections in Algeria will lead almost certainly to one result: The re-election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika. While some hailed the 2004 elections as either a step forward or a step backward for democracy and/or stability, the 2009 elections will more resemble the 1999 elections, where Bouteflika and his institutional backers railroaded the former diplomat to El Mouradia. They will be a victory for neither democratic processes nor Algerian democracy in general.
It also resembles 1999 in the paucity of participating candidates, though unlike ten years ago the opposition will not be forced to pull out at the last minute: It will simply not run. 18 candidates have expressed interest, but few have met the legal requirements to actually run. Even opposition parties that participate in the rubber-stamp parliament are boycotting. To do so, they argue, would be to legitimize Bouteflika’s “constitutional coup”. In this way the election will differ also from 2004, in that there is no reasonably “strong” candidate in the way of Ali Benflis with real personal or ideological differences from Bouteflika. So here are is the list of those in and those out.
FFS (Ait Ahmed’s bunch)
Running: 18 announced intentions to run (not counting Boutef; the parties of the ruling coalition have announced Bouteflika as their candidate.); 11 have qualified by gaining 75,000 signatures to validate their candidacy. El Watan states that 11 have qualified but names only 10, counting Bouteflika. El Moudjahid provides the 11 candidates’ names.
PT (Louisa Hannoun)
Algerian Rally (RA, Ali Zeghdoud)
El Islah (Djahid Younsi)
National Movement of Hope (Hadef Mohamed)
Ahd 54 (Faouzi Rebaïne)
Mouvement El-Infitah (Omar Bouacha)
Rachid Bouaziz (Independent)
Mohand Belaïd Oussaïd, a.k.a Mohamed Saïd (Independent)
Loth Bonatiro (Independent)
Those who were thought to be running but are not:
Reda Malek (Alliance Nationale Républicaine, ANR)
There is also a rather fantastic conspiracy theory accusing Morocco and the Mossad spreading “disinformation and propaganda on the health of President Bouteflika”. Of course, it links the FFS to these “efforts”.
Bouteflika’s campaign is framing the President in terms worthy of an Aaron Copland score, as “a man of peace and hope“. Opponents on the other hand are using the slogan: بوتف هو اختياري “Boutef is optional”. Neither of these slogans would appear to represent reality. Such is politics.
I will be posting on Hannoun and Touati in the near future. Touati’s story is actually somewhat interesting, and there are many conspiracy theories about him circulating. Hannoun is Hannoun and though I have remarked on her complicity with the government before, I will be doing so again.
If the list changes, I will amend this post. Comments on the election are welcomed here. [Amended, 24 February, 2009.]