Why Algeria is holding early elections

President Tebboune's decision to bring forward polls to 7 September was influenced by domestic and foreign policy considerations. Wide backing for it indicates officials had gotten a heads-up.

Supporters of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune celebrate his victory in the presidential elections on December 13, 2019.
Supporters of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune celebrate his victory in the presidential elections on December 13, 2019.

Why Algeria is holding early elections

Algeria’s decision to hold early presidential elections may have surprised some, but for those paying attention, it wasn't such a shock.

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune likely warned leaders to bring forward the vote to 7 September—three months ahead of schedule. The support of both loyalists and opposition groups to the decision further supports this claim.

Tebboune has yet to announce if we will be running, but political analyst Ahsan Khalas told Al Majalla that any decision made in this regard would be one that emphasises continuity.

For its part, the Algerian official news agency Algeria Press Service (APS) dismissed that the decision indicated any political crisis within the government and said the announcement reflected the government's commitment to transparency.

The report did, however, acknowledge “the presence of external threats" and described the early election as, "a pre-emptive measure against potential orchestrated disturbances."

“It requires leadership from the president, support from the military, and the readiness of institutions to confront external challenges that loom ominously and pose threats to our sovereignty and security."

An elderly man sits at a bus stop covered in posters during the legislative election campaign on June 11, 2021, in Algiers.

Continuity candidate

Tebboune definitely has the backing to run again, Khalas explained, pointing to the army's indirect support for the president. Tebboune has also been very vocal in his support for the Palestinian cause and has led important economic projects to advance the country forward.

And finally, Tebboune has successfully confronted and managed Algeria's rising tensions with its neighbouring countries of Morocco, Mali and Niger.


The belief of seasoned observers of Algeria's politics that parties were tipped off before the announcement came from how they reacted.

The Islamist-oriented National Construction Movement was quick to convene an emergency meeting, which set up a commission to prepare for elections.

For its part, the National Liberation Front described the move as "sovereign". It emphasised its commitment to upholding constitutional requirements regarding the dates of elections, respecting the will of the Algerian people, and ensuring institutional stability in the country.

Although he has yet to announce it, Tebboune is expected to run as a continuity candidate in the early elections.

Additionally, the National Democratic Rally's Secretary-General Mustafa Yahi said the move was a direct response to sceptics, it confirmed the primacy of the Algerian constitution, and that his party was ready to participate. 

Political science experts have also backed Tebboune's decision to hold early elections.

Dr. Kahi Mabrouk, a professor at the University of Ouargla, said the decision was made with both domestic and foreign considerations at play.

Domestically, there is an urgent need to pass the national budget. Any delay could negatively impact Algeria's economic recovery which is still stalling after the COVID-19 pandemic.

As for foreign policy considerations, Mabrouk pointed out that Tebboune has a very important state visit to France scheduled for the end of September. Winning elections would give him a stronger mandate and negotiating position in Paris.

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