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Algerians will be heading to the polls on the 17th of April 2014 to vote in Presidential Elections. The country experienced widespread protests in 2011 and has been going through political turmoil since the Arab Spring revolution, which further inspired the protests and call for change.[1]The president is elected for a 5 year term.

 

The Algerian Constitutional Council announced six final running candidates; the 77 year old Abdelaziz Bouteflika who is running for his fourth term[2] , and is expected to win the election, Ali Benflis, a former Prime Minister, Abdul Aziz Belaid, Moussa Touati, Louisa Hanoun; the only female candidate and Ali Fawzi Rebaine.[3] All of these candidates have previously participated in presidential elections, except for Belaid, who is the youngest of the candidates. President Bouteflika stands as the overwhelming favourite candidate; with the power of state in hand and both the security services and military supporting his campaign, it is almost a certainty that his election as the next president is a foregone conclusion.[4]

Women’s Political Participation

Algeria is relatively regarded as a liberal nation. Unlike other countries in the region, equality for women is enshrined in both the Algerian constitution and laws. Thus, the right to vote and run for office is not something new to Algerian women as it was granted to them immediately after the war of independence (1962). Nevertheless, the country’s long history of insecurity has not created perfect conditions conductive to women’s empowerment.[5]  

Algeria has remarkably succeeded in increasing the percentage of women in parliament. It now ranks 26th in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s ranking of countries whilst before the last elections , it was at the 121st position.[6]

The law requires the government to promote women’s political rights by increasing female representation within elected assemblies through use of quotas. It stipulates that 30 percent of all candidates be women.[7] 146 women out of 462 candidates were elected to the parliament in May 2012, which increased the rate of women’s representation from 8 percent in 2007 to 31.60 percent in 2012.[8]

This progress is truly extraordinary, given that the global average is only 20 percent in general and about 14 percent in the Arab world. It is thus arguable that Algerian women members of parliament hold more political power than their Arab counterparts. In fact, three women held seats in the cabinet, a woman led the Workers Party, and three major political parties – the FLN, National Rally for Democracy, and RCD – had women’s divisions headed by women.[9]

Conclusion

Although Algeria is aiming high in addressing gender parity in politics, it does not necessarily translate in real life as Algerian society largely remains male-dominated. In fact, so far, only few Algerian women have truly held leadership positions that allowed them to influence policy-making. Khalida Toumi, the minister of culture and a strong advocate for women’s rights illustrates this. The lone female presidential candidate in these elections is not likely to become president. It is laudable that there is a female candidate but it would be even more, if she had a chance of winning the election!

Women’s Political Representation Statistics

Women’s Political Representation

As of 2012

As of 2014

Female members of parliament

146/462(31.60%)[10]

N/A

Female presidential candidates

N/A

1/6

 

 



[1] European Forum for Democracy and Solidarity, http://www.europeanforum.net/country/algeria

[5]  European Parliamentary Research Service, Women in Politics: Algeria     http://www.europarl.europa.eu/eplibrary/Algeria.pdf

[6] European Parliamentary Research Service, Women in Politics: Algeria  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/eplibrary/Algeria.pdf

[7] State Department, 2013 Human Rights Report; Algeria http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/nea/220347.htm

[8] IPU PARLINE database: ALGERIA (National People’s Assembly), http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2003_A.htm

[9] State Department, 2013 Human Rights Report; Algeria http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2013/nea/220347.htm

[10] IPU PARLINE database: ALGERIA (National People’s Assembly), http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/2003_A.htm

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