Algeria's two government-allied parties dominated parliamentary elections and achieved an absolute majority, the Interior Ministry has announced, prompting cries of fraud from an Islamist alliance that had thought it would do well.
The National Liberation Front, the party that won independence and ruled alone for years, nearly doubled its number of seats in Parliament by taking 220. Its sister party, the National Democratic Rally, took 68.
The two parties now form a majority in the 462-seat Parliament. The results are also dramatically different from elections in other countries in North Africa, where following the Arab Spring, opposition parties, particularly Islamists, have made dramatic gains.
The new Parliament will help rewrite the Constitution and set the stage for the all-important 2014 presidential elections.
The three Islamist parties in the “Green Alliance” actually saw their number of seats in Parliament plummet from 72 to just 48, despite widespread expectations they would do well. The alliance had said on Thursday night that based on their observations in polling stations, they should take between 80 and 100 seats and be the second power in Parliament.
Algeria was spared major pro-democracy demonstrations that rocked North Africa, but there is widespread dissatisfaction and the government had presented this election as part of a reform process.
Many Algerians interviewed during the campaign expressed skepticism about the political process, citing years of rigged elections.
Turnout in the cities was light. Overall the government reported 42.36 percent turnout. “The Algerian people did their patriotic duty and showed they were ready to take their destiny in their hands,” Interior Minister Dahu Ould Kablia said as he announced the results. The huge number of seats for the National Liberation Front, or FLN, provoked gasps from journalists.