The ‘yes’ won the constitutional referendum that took place 1st November in Algeria with 66.8% of the votes (SSF 31/10/2020). The proposal to change Algeria’s constitution was the flagship project of President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who was thinking he was ‘making a move towards the protest movement of the Hirak’. The vote took place without the initiator of the project, who is currently in hospital in Germany as he was contaminated by the new coronavirus (Covid-19).
The vote was however marked by a low voter turnout. The National Independent Elections Authority (ANIE) announced 2 November that the participation rate was of only 23.7%.
For the power, this referendum was a way to answer to the claims of the contest movement ‘Hirak’.
The ‘Hirak’, which embodies the opposition since February 2019, had called to boycott the vote. This record abstention is an indicator of the upholding of the Hirak’s claims.
Besides, in several regions of Algeria, the vote was marred by incidents, especially in Kabylia where almost all the polls centres stayed closed.
According to ANIE, in the wilaya of Tizi Ouzou, only 4 out of 67 bureaux polls centres managed to open. According to the same source, ‘the security conditions did not allow the openings’.
In the region of Bouira, clashes erupted between protesters opposed to the referendum to security forces who fired tear gas. Several demonstrators were arrested. The clashes especially took place in the cities of Haizer and Bechloul.
An important security reinforcement had been made in Kabylia.
This record abstention is a silent victory for the Hirak and a humiliation for the regime. It seems that the country is now again facing a political impasse, while the constitution reform was supposed to legitimize the election of the current President. This massive boycott should fuel the spontaneous contest movement against the system.
In view of the situation and while there is still a climate of repression towards the militants of the Hirak, the journalists and the political opponents since a few months now, protests called by the Hirak are not excluded in the next few days.