Algeria’s Islamists were reeling yesterday from a stinging setback in legislative polls that saw the ruling party come out on top, resisting the Arab Spring’s tide of democratic change.
The regime said that the results showed Algerians’ desire for stability, at a time when regime change was bringing chaos to other countries, and outright rejection of Islamism, whose rise 20 years ago led to civil war.
Alegerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN) won 220 out of 462 seats up for grabs in Thursday’s legislative elections, improving on its share in the outgoing national assembly.
The seven Islamist parties contesting the polls could only -manage a combined 59 seats, a major setback after their predictions of victory during the campaign.
The National Rally for Democracy (RND) of Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, a nationalist party loyal to Bouteflika, came second with 68 seats, up from 62 in the outgoing house.
While the results largely maintain the “status quo,” one notable change was the number of elected women, which rose to 145 from seven in the outgoing assembly following the introduction of quotas.
Algeria’s outgoing governing coalition included the FLN, the RND and the largest of the legal Islamist parties, the Movement of Society for Peace. Friday’s provisional results mean the FLN and the RND could form a majority without the Islamists.