Ruling FLN party wins Algeria parliamentary polls

Abdelaziz Belkhadem, secretary-general of Algeria's ruling FLN, casts his vote in the 2012 parliamentary elections. The FLN, led by former PM Abdelaziz Belkhadem, will remain the largest party in parliament

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Algeria's governing party, the National Liberation Front (FLN), has won Thursday's parliamentary elections, according to official results.

The party won 220 out of 463 seats, while its partner in government, the National Democratic Rally (RND), came second with 68 seats, officials said.

An Islamist alliance came third with 48 seats, but has alleged fraud.

The vote had been billed as Algeria's most free and fair, but has been marred by widespread voter apathy.

The authorities said turnout was a higher-than-expected 42.9%.

Earlier, correspondents reported seeing polling stations largely deserted, and some observers have dismissed the figure as inflated.

The three Islamist parties forming the Islamist Green Algeria Alliance, which saw their combined share of the seats drop, said the election was fraudulent and dangerous, the AFP news agency reported.

The authorities had been keen to present the vote as a sign of democratic reform and an alternative to the Arab Spring pro-democracy protests of last year.

The unrest largely passed Algeria by, but its ageing political elite has been under pressure to reform.

Dozens of parties took part, after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika approved the establishment of 23 new political parties.

But the BBC's Chloe Arnold in Algiers said very few Algerians appeared to be voting in the capital, amid a feeling the poll would change little for ordinary people.

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