Algeria’s presidential campaign is in trouble. Candidates are struggling to fill rally venues, campaign managers have quit, voters have pelted campaign headquarters with tomatoes and eggs, and the country’s 9-month-old pro-democracy movement calls the whole thing a sham.
The five candidates seeking to replace President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the Dec. 12 election have largely failed to captivate a disillusioned public. Bouteflika was pushed out in April after 20 years in power amid an exceptional, peaceful protest movement, and now demonstrators want a wholesale change of political leadership.
Instead, the election is managed by the long-serving power structure of this oil and gas-rich country with a strategic role in the Mediterranean region. Instead of new faces, two of the candidates are former prime ministers and one is a loyalist of Algeria’s influential army chief.