The pre-1989 electoral system allowed for multiple candidates for local and national elections, although all candidates were drawn from an FLN list. Districts were divided based on a proportional representation system. The legalization of competitive political parties in 1989 challenged the FLN with candidates drawn from other party lists. To preserve the FLN's political domination, the National People's Assembly, in which the FLN dominated, made modifications to the electoral districts. These redistributions involved heavy overrepresentation of the rural and less populated regions, traditional strongholds of the FLN, and drew heavy criticism from all political parties.
In the new system of proportional representation, all seats in the local and national assemblies are awarded to the party winning a majority of the popular vote. In the absence of an absolute majority, the party with a plurality of votes receives 51 percent of the seats and the remaining seats are proportionally divided among all other parties receiving at least 7 percent of the total popular vote. This new electoral system actually served to undermine the FLN when the FIS emerged as the most popular party in the June 1990 local elections and again in the first round of national elections in December 1991. In May 1991 and again in October 1991, the National People's Assembly approved new electoral codes adding extra seats, so that the total number of seats came to 430, up from 261 in 1976.
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