Algeria's Interior Ministry announced May 5 the results of the previous day's legislative election results, which could have important implications for presidential elections in 2019. The ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy (RND) coalition clearly maintains its majority in parliament, but it is notable that the FLN lost a number of seats while the RND gained some.
Participation in the elections was 38 percent, lower than the government target of more than 43 percent, the rate in 2012. Low turnout is likely a result of waning popular support for the government because of painful austerity measures implemented in January. The shifting power balance between the FLN and RND is also likely at least partly attributable to austerity measures. But regardless of reasons, declining support for the FLN could bolster RND leader Ahmed Ouyahia or other RND leaders during presidential elections in 2019. Because President Abdulaziz Bouteflika of the FLN party has ruled Algeria for almost twenty years, any leadership change, even from within the same ruling coalition, will mark a new era for Algeria.
Also of note: Algeria's Islamist opposition parties made slight gains when considered together (67 seats compared to 60 in 2012). This slight gain indicates that voters are warming up to the Islamist message. After a disappointing performance in 2012 elections, Islamist parties have been working hard to strengthen their message, apparently successfully. It will be important to keep watch on their parliamentary performance during the next two years ahead of presidential elections and in the lead up to provincial elections in the fall of this year.
None of the leftist, more secular opposition parties won more than 21 seats, which is the limit for forming a parliamentary bloc. They'll have to form a coalition if they hope to have any sway at all.