Sunday, April 12, 2009

Houhou yentakheb rouhou

(Warning: this post contains no significant linguistic content.)

The results are in: Bouteflika has been “re-elected” as President of Algeria with a staggering 90.24% of votes cast. According to Government figures, 74.54% of eligible voters voted (although oddly enough, the polling booths looked deserted in all the main towns.) He had already served two terms, which had been the limit, so, to let himself run for re-election, he had had the constitution changed shortly beforehand. I would start mocking the guy, but why bother? With figures like that, he's making a fool of himself with no help from me. Time was when he was willing to settle for figures that naive observers might be capable of taking seriously; as he turns senile either his intelligence or his capacity for shame must be declining. The best measure of the glory of his achievements is the 50% of Algerian youths who intend to try to leave the country.

In case you were wondering how this result was achieved, here's my best somewhat informed guess: In the countryside, especially in areas like the Sahara where tribalism is still present, the local patriarchs simply tell everyone to vote en masse for the President, on the basis that he will stay in power no matter what they do and a conspicuous display of loyalty will earn them government investment (although even that wouldn't be enough to produce things like the 97% turnout in Tissemsilt without further fraud.) In the cities or the larger towns of the north, practically nobody bothers to vote apart from people on government payrolls, so they simply exaggerate the participation figures. In Kabylie, uniquely, we have a largely rural, somewhat tribal region fed up enough with the government that even the villages have organised themselves to refuse it legitimacy, so conspicuously that even government figures acknowledge a much lower turnout. If we assume that the government figures are broadly accurate regarding relative turnout (though certainly not absolute), then the situation shows up in the negative slope on this plot of population against turnout (participation); the two 30% wilayas are Tizi-Ouzou and Bejaia, the main Kabyle regions.

Another post on this worth looking at: Victory over the People.


David Marjanović said...

I just love that the chart goes all the way to 110 % turnout. Mockery is not dead just yet!

John Cowan said...

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalin Boulevard
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another one?

--Bertolt Brecht, 1953

bulbul said...

I see that April is not a good month for elections anywhere. This is what we got to keep...
BTW, "Houhou"?

Anonymous said...

Everyone was expecting these results. Remember the Algerian proverb? : "al-laeab Hmida wa r-rasham Hmida " (the player is Hmida and the referee is Hmida). A.C

Lameen Souag said...

Yes, it's certainly no surprise he won - but I am a little surprised he decided to make it so obvious that he was faking it.

حوحو: a personal name, from the phrase حوحو يشكر روحو "Houhou thanks himself (ie is vain)".