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Algerians Vote for New Parliament
Algerians vote Thursday for a new parliament likely to hand a majority to the ruling FLN party and its allies, though turnout is traditionally low for elections to a National Assembly many voters dismiss as weak.
The ballot comes at a sensitive time for Algeria as the OPEC member tackles the economic impact of low global oil prices and a potential transition from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika who has been seen rarely since a 2013 stroke.
The National Liberation Front [FLN], which has dominated Algerian politics since independence from France in 1962, and the pro-government National Rally for Democracy [RND] are widely expected to win against a weak, divided opposition.
The 462-seat National Assembly has limited powers in the presidential system where lawmakers have a five-year term. A new constitution allows parliament a say in naming the prime minister but critics see it as a rubberstamp assembly.
In the 2012 election, FLN won 221 seats and the RND 70 seats by playing the stability and security card following the 2011 Arab Spring revolts in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. But turnout was just 43 percent.
Results for Thursday's vote will be announced Friday morning by the interior ministry.
In power for nearly two decades, Bouteflika is widely praised for bringing the country out of a decade-long 1990s war with Islamist militants that killed 200,000 people and left many Algerians still wary of instability.
Government officials and ruling parties mostly appealed to security and continuity, with door Libya still in chaos next door following the civil war to oust Muammar Gadhafi in 2011.
A veteran of the war against colonial France, Bouteflika also oversaw a period of high oil prices that financed a massive welfare system from cheap housing and subsidized fuel and food programs with roots in Algeria's post-independence socialism.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team
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