Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
07ALGIERS30
2007-01-09 16:48:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Algiers
Cable title:  

FLN WINS SENATE IN CLOSER-THAN-EXPECTED ELECTION

Tags:  PGOV KDEM AG 
pdf how-to read a cable
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PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAS #0030 0091648
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091648Z JAN 07
FM AMEMBASSY ALGIERS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2678
INFO RUEHTU/AMEMBASSY TUNIS 6423
RUEHRB/AMEMBASSY RABAT 1569
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1482
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2044
RUEHCL/AMCONSUL CASABLANCA 2830
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
C O N F I D E N T I A L ALGIERS 000030 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2017
TAGS: PGOV KDEM AG
SUBJECT: FLN WINS SENATE IN CLOSER-THAN-EXPECTED ELECTION

REF: A. 06 ALGIERS 2067


B. 06 ALGIERS 2082

Classified By: DCM Thomas F. Daughton; reasons 1.4 b/d

C O N F I D E N T I A L ALGIERS 000030

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/09/2017
TAGS: PGOV KDEM AG
SUBJECT: FLN WINS SENATE IN CLOSER-THAN-EXPECTED ELECTION

REF: A. 06 ALGIERS 2067


B. 06 ALGIERS 2082

Classified By: DCM Thomas F. Daughton; reasons 1.4 b/d


1. (U) As expected (ref A),the National Liberation Front
(FLN) wrested control of the Senate from the RND party in
December 28 indirect elections. What was not expected was
its slender margin of victory: the FLN took only 28 seats out
of a possible 48. Since the majority of eligible electors in
45 of the 48 wilayas (provinces) were FLN members, the press
and most political observers had expected the FLN to win
something closer to 45 seats. After first describing the
election results as an FLN "tsunami," Prime Minister (and FLN
head) Abdelaziz Belkhadem back-pedalled in early January,
admitting that his party "lost many, many votes and could
have done better."


2. (C) Existing internal dissent from members favoring former
FLN head Benflis (ref B) was exascerbated by the primary
process leading to the Senate vote, which left a number of
candidates with good reputations and vote tallies without
official party support. Many of the unsuccessful FLN primary
candidates opted to run as independents, and three of them
won -- in Illizi, Ghardaia, and Boumerdes. Other party
members who were not selected as official candidates opted to
vote against the chosen FLN candidate, leading to a
surprisingly good showing for other parties. PM Belkhadem
responded to the defections by accusing FLN members who voted
for other parties of selling out, and by threatening
disciplinary action against them.

When Is a Loss a Win?
--------------


3. (C) The RND, which had a majority of electors in only five
wilayas, ultimately won 12 seats in as many wilayas. This
more-than-doubling of its expected victories prompted much of
the local media to declare RND the the "victor" even though
it lost control of the Senate. The moderate Islamist MSP
party won three seats, and the predominantly Berber RCD party
one seat. RCD spokesman Tarik Mira expressed great
satisfaction with his party's win, claiming that it came as a
surprise as the RCD had been focusing on preparations for
elections for the lower house of parliament, expected in May.
The other predominantly Berber party, FFS, excluded itself
voluntarily from the Senate elections.


4. (C) Former RND MP Fatma Zohra Mansouri told us that the
FLN's "lack of discipline (was) highly profitable" for her
party. Nadia Mellal, a reporter for the French-language
daily Liberte who closely followed the senatorial campaign,
said that Belkhadem was clearly irritated and embarrassed by
his party's showing. His main concern now, she claimed, was
ensuring that this "tragedy" for the FLN did not repeat
itself in the May elections. The FLN, she said, had taken
the image of a united party speaking with a single voice and
turned it on its head. In Mellal's view, the FLN's "campaign
supervisors" -- government ministers and members of the
party's steering committee -- performed miserably on the
campaign trail because they were dull and unconvincing. She
said it was obvious that the FLN electors -- and, she
claimed, ordinary Algerians who would vote in the May
parliamentary elections -- were turned off by their
discourse. Given the way the Senate campaign was managed,
Mellal concluded that Belkhadem needed to rethink his
approach for the upcoming elections.

Comment: Belkhadem Blues
--------------


5. (C) It is evident that Prime Minister Belkhadem now has
serious problems within the FLN and that they are largely of
his own making. In November, when the primary election
process was just beginning, senior FLN representatives touted
it as clear and transparent. But the process evidently did
not lead to a party list that corresponded to the desires of
the FLN primary voters -- and it was Belkhadem and his
steering committee who ignored those voters in compiling the
list. The prime minister has reacted to the election by
publicly calling on President Bouteflika to reshuffle his
cabinet. Political observers and MPs speculate that a
reshuffle could come as early as this week, though differ
widely on their predictions of the extent of any change.
Whether the cabinet is reshuffled or not, Belkhadem has
emerged politically bruised from the Senate elections.
FORD