Monday, 26 March 2012

Algeria: How the vote will be rigged

There are few who believe that the 10 May legislative elections will not be rigged in one way or another. It is not particularly important to the regime how the votes are distributed between parties, as the lower elected Chamber has only minimal real power. The vote will, therefore, be rigged to increase the turnout figure.

There are already clear indications that the regime is using a customary way of 'loading the ballot' by reallocating members of the security forces – army, gendarmerie, police – and other state functionaries to different constituencies so that their vote can be registered in at least two places.

In theory, this practice can be checked by astute observers but, because Algeria keeps a tight lid on all matters relating to its security forces and their movements, it is, in practice, difficult for observers, especially from other countries, to check such details.

In practice, and according to our sources in Algeria, this election could see as many as 500,000 votes being 'doubly registered' in this way. That is the approximate size of the country's security forces. Not all of them will be moved around in this way, but they are likely to be joined by a large number of other state employees.

The addition of some half a million extra votes to the overall ballot could make a significant difference to the regime's efforts to 'beat the boycott' and get a turnout figure around 50%. On a national roll, which is currently estimated by opposition sources as somewhere around 16-17 million, an extra half million votes could shift the turnout percentage by possibly as much as 9%, enough to increase it from around 40% to around 50%; this would enable the regime to breathe a sigh of relief. With other likely methods of ballot stuffing, the regime might possibly get the turnout up to 55-60% which would be very satisfactory for Algeria's Western allies.

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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