Skip to main content

Boycotts, brutality and binned votes: Algeria's election didn't go as planned

The poll that placed Abdelmadjid Tebboune in power was met with vandalism and anger, as Algerians lebelled it a charade
An Algerian protester holds up a placard during an anti-government demonstration in the capital Algiers on 11 December 2019 (AFP)

Despite the objections of hundreds of thousands of protesters, Algeria on Thursday elected a new president amid chaotic scenes of police brutality, vandalised polling stations and a mass boycott.

Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who served as prime minister under deposed president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, won with 58 percent of the vote, according to the electoral body.

Swathes of the population boycotted the election, which they deemed to be a charade to keep the ruling elite in power. The poll had the lowest turnout - 20 percent - in Algeria’s history.

Many Algerians took to the streets and were met with a violent backlash from police.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Translation: The police today used violence against women and children. A barbaric act. Which leads to many questions about the psychological state of these police officers. Do they have mothers and sisters? Do they have honour? Are they human beings?

Translation: That's the situation a few minutes later. Very violent charge that causes crowding and panic. The anti-voting protesters come back each time shouting "ya 3assima nodhi" (Capital [Algiers] rise up) #Alger #Algerie

Some took matters into their own hands, destroying polling stations and scattering ballot papers. 


Translation: Stopping the elections in Bejaia

Translation: Polling station Larbi Tbessi in Bouira city, currently

Others decided to cast votes into less traditional kinds of ballot boxes. One group showed its disdain for the vote by posting ballots straight into the bin, while elsewhere Algerians ran their own election and chose "the people" as president.

Translation: 12 December: Yes, the people said it out loud today, "No to gang elections" ... "The people are the president."

One person even went as far as to cast their vote for a popular K-Pop star.

The Algerian vote fell on the same day as the UK general election, where Conservative Boris Johnson triumphed to retain the premiership. The strategy in the two countries could not have been more different:

Despite the contrasting approaches, some British Algerians were left lamenting the outcome of both polls.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.