ALGIERS, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Algeria’s ruling parties retained their majority in local elections, taking more than 50 percent of the vote, the interior minister said on Friday.
Turnout in Thursday’s vote reached 46.83 percent, slightly up on 42.92 percent in 2012, the minister Noureddine Bedoui told reporters.
Participation is closely watched by officials as they attempt to reverse a trend of increasing political apathy. More than half of Algeria’s population are under 30 and many feel disconnected from the ageing elite which runs the country.
The elections come amid continuing questions over the health of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and has made only rare appearances since suffering a stroke in 2013.
In Thursday’s election the two ruling parties, the National Liberation Front (FLN) and the National Rally for Democracy (RND), got 30.56 percent and 23.21 percent respectively, Bedoui said.
The RND, which is led by Prime Minster Ahmed Ouyahia and which made gains also in parliamentary elections in May, boosted its number of seats to 463, from less than 250 in 2012. The FLN’s share of seats was slightly lower than five years ago.
A total of 1,541 seats were being contested.
Islamists including the Movement for Society and Peace (MSP) and a coalition of three smaller parties lost ground, taking only 57 seats between them.
Bouteflika is credited by many for bringing OPEC member Algeria out of a 1990s conflict with Islamist militants and for overseeing a period of high oil prices and vast public spending.
But the government has recently been attempting to reduce spending to cope with a sharp fall in oil revenues since 2014. (Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Richard Balmforth)