Algerian PM Wrong to Underestimate Islamists’ Electoral Appeal

Article Summary
The Prime Minster of Algeria and the Minister of the Interior have predicted that Islamists will not win the next Algerian elections. On the contrary, Kamal Jouzi argues that the results of upcoming polls in Algeria will be no different from those seen recently in Tunisia - not because Algerians are Islamists, but because they have been given no better alternative.

[Algerian] Prime Minister Ahmad Ouyahia and [Algerian] Minister of the Interior Dahou Ould Kabila agree on one thing: The idea that Islamists [will emerge onto the Algerian political scene] during the upcoming legislative elections is pure fantasy. We have no idea what data led both men to come to this conclusion. This reminds us of the Moroccan Minister of the Interior’s declaration before the last Moroccan elections, when he said almost the same thing. In Tunisia, it was said that the [Islamic] Ennahda Movement  could not win elections in Tunisia because Tunisia is an open [country] - like Morocco - due to a developed tourism sector and the contact that this entails between Tunisians and foreign tourists. [It is said that Tunisians have therefore] become influenced by the European lifestyle. Though in both cases we saw how the Renaissance Movement took the Tunisian scene by storm. [illogical]

Algeria will not escape the phenomenon of Islamization, even if Algerians are sick and tired of the experience [they went through in the] 1990s, with regards to the remnants of the Islamists electoral victory [at the time]. This is not necessarily because Algerians tend to be Islamists, but simply because they face an absence of alternatives. [What’s more] the [Algerian citizen] today urgently needs [a change] in the [leadership] that has failed to manage his affairs. Therefore he finds himself facing two options: The revival of initially dead parties, such as the National Democratic Assembly, the National Liberation Front Party, and the HAMS Movement, or he may opt for new figures who had never in the past [worn] the government’s cloak and give them a chance to show their capacities. It is pure fantasy to consider that the Algerian citizen would tend towards the first option while Arab people everywhere are ridding themselves of all forms of physical and moral repression.

What, then, would make the Algerians elect the National Liberation Front or HAMS Movement and ignore parties like Abdullah Jaballah or Manasra, who have a clean political record as the government has not even approved them? What would convince us to elect Al-Arandi, who tested on us all contradictory policies for two decades, while leaving aside Al- Afafas, who has struggled since independence against [one party rule]? No Mr. Minister, the Islamists will dominate the ballots even if we do not agree with their ideas, simply because you have closed the political scene in a way that has paved the path for [their ascendance].

Found in: political islam, ouyahia, islamists in algeria, islamists, democratic reform, dahou ould kabila, arab democracy, arab, algerian government, algerian elections

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