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Algeria heads to the polls: ‘This election has nothing to do with us’


Algerians head to the polls on Thursday for an election that looks certain to hand President Abdelaziz Bouteflika a fourth term in office. FRANCE 24 spoke to residents of Algiers, where the mood appears to lurch between indifference and despair.


Seventy-seven-year-old Bouteflika has been in power since 1999 and is widely tipped to win the April 17 presidential election due to the ruling FLN nationalist party's dominant role and his backing from the party's machinery and its allies.

Algeria's ailing leader has been too frail to take part in the election campaign, which human rights group Amnesty International described as containing multiple “shortcomings”.

And with the outcome of the vote all but certain, many Algerians show little interest in the vote.

Algiers resident Samir Morsellab, who says he spends his days smoking cigarettes and playing video games, is one of many who plan not to vote.

"The election hasn’t got anything to do with us,” he tells FRANCE 24.

Almost two-thirds of Algeria’s population is under the age of 30, and like Samir, many of the youths are unemployed.

“I am not going to legitimise their mistakes. I'm not calling for people to abstain from voting, everyone should do as he likes, that's not my responsibility. But I don't trust politicians, they don't keep their promises," he says.

With little hope for the future, Samir says he and his friends dream of one day leaving Algeria.

For others, who remember the country's gruesome 1990s civil war, the priority is to avoid any upheaval following the election.

"Our biggest concern in the country today is living in peace. That's all, we want: peace," says a lady nearby.

Echoing her view, an elderly man adds: "the only politics I care about is having enough to eat, drink, a roof over your head and having a bit of fun. The rest doesn't interest me."

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