Algeria: Synonyms for Democracy

It was a national election that President Ahmed ben Bella could not lose.

Yet last week he scarcely looked like a winner.

After a week of campaigning, Algeria's voters were urged to flock to the polls to vote for one unexciting 138-man list of carefully selected candidates for the National Assembly. The pro-government newspaper Alger Republicain tried to reply to "those who regret that our country is not the scene of electoral battles as are practiced elsewhere" by lamely explaining that a "multiplicity of parties and programs is not necessarily synonymous with real democracy."

Ben Bella's government crowed that the turnout was 85%,...

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