The future of politics in Algeria

Challenges and Obstacles


Algeria has lived a history of bloodshed and disasters, from the bitter war of liberation against the French colonizer to the end of the "black decade". Today, extremist groups are still fighting on its borders. All these political disturbances  has also shaped its political vision on foreign issues.

The nature of the political system in Algeria

The presidential system is the political system approved by the Constitution of Algeria, where the President of the Republic occupies the hierarchy of executive power, as granted by the Constitution wide powers that made him the center of gravity of the political system, as the Algerian Constitution affirms and protects political pluralism and the parliamentary institution, but the presidency remains responsible for the relationship between the executive and legislative institutions.
If we look constitutionally at the Algerian political system, it appears, despite its hard-line presidency, democratic, but realistically, it is the contrary, since the institution of the presidency does not yet have the same power as the constitution, The National Liberation Front (FLN) has ruled Algeria since the independence. Other political parties have emerged after the 1989 Constitution, which abolished the one-party system. Moreover, democratic practices such as freedom of expression and social justice remain weak in Algeria, as do most Arab countries.
This dichotomy between the Constitution and the political reality has made some believe that the political system in Algeria is structurally democratic, with some democratic characteristics, but not functionally, and therefore the responsibility to consolidate democracy is due to the will and practice of political actors.

The location of the army in the Algerian political system

The Algerian constitution offers no apparent political role to the army, but Algeria has generally been seen under military rule since Houari Boumediene's coup against Ahmed Ben Bella, the first president after independence, on the pretext of "correcting the revolutionary path" in 1965.
But there is no doubt that the military establishment actually has a prominent position in the Algerian political system, and that if the military grip has weakened somewhat compared to the past century, the army still has a strong influence on the source of the decision, with its intelligence, information, capabilities and competencies.
This involvement of the military in Algerian political affairs is obvious in the participation of a number of military leaders in the National Liberation Front (FLN), which keeps those military officers away from their professional functions, as well as the Algerian intelligence apparatus's influence on political and community life.
The Algerian National People's Army grew out from the nucleus of the fighters in the War of Liberation against French colonialism, which contributed strongly to the building of the modern Algerian state and maintained its territorial borders. This made the military establishment, in addition to the power of arms, a revolutionary and historical legitimacy. , So that some see them as the safety valve of the Algerian state from falling into failure, in light of the erosion of political components and the threat of extremist groups.

The Algerian opposition

The Algerian opposition in the Islamic pole represented by the banned Salvation Front and secular parties, most notably the Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), as well as the National Change Pole, this polar is represented by figures who have previously headed the government. All these political forces are calling for change, but each has a different vision and divergent visions of ways to achieve it.
These forces strongly objected to the candidacy of Abdelaziz Bouteflika despite his illness for a fourth term in the last presidential election in which he won with more than 81%. In recent years, civil protest forces have also emerged against the policies of the Algerian government.

The Algerian Islamists

The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won two years after its establishment by a majority of votes in the parliamentary elections on December 26, 1991. The army quickly stopped the electoral process and abolished its results. In 1992, the military removed President Chadli Benjedid, who was willing to give the Islamists their political right. The army, with the support of some political and civil forces achived its goal under the pretext of "saving the Republic" from the threat of the Islamic forces, Which led those groups together with the groups that share the same ideology to raise arms and engage in a guerrilla war with the military authority and to put the country in a bloody period of the worst stages of Algerian history.
This nightmare did not end for the Algerian people until 1999, when Abdelaziz Bouteflika assumed the presidency. He signed an agreement with the FIS under the so-called "Charter for Peace and Reconciliation" whereby the state would pardon militants who did not commit murder or Rape, if they decide to return from the mountain reefs to the homeland, in exchange for the disarmament. The beginning of this century was characterized by the complete disarmament of the Islamic Salvation Front, but some of the most radical groups affiliated with al Qaeda still adopt the option of violence.
Today, there are Islamic forces that aspire to change peacefully, like the rest of the political components, namely the movement of the society of peace and the Renaissance movement and the reform movement in the first place.

The Arab Spring and Algeria

At a time when the winds of the Arab Spring were blowing on the Arab countries before they turned into a wind in some of them, the attention was directed to Algeria, which is considered under military rule, but contrary to expectations, the Algerian regime emerged with the least concessions, even compared with the Moroccan neighbour. Algeria knew only very limited demonstrations, which were quickly contained.
It may surprise many people this cold reaction of the Algerian people, especially as they live in bad conditions like the rest of the peoples of the region, but the real reason for the absence of an Arab spring in Algeria, as observers see, is the suffering of this country from the horrors of the " black decade", Algerians in their right choice, having seen with their own eyes spring turns into a harsh winter in Syria, Libya and Yemen.
However, Algeria has been hit by some of the effects of Arab revolutions. The state of emergency has been abolished since the beginning of 2011, the security grip has been somewhat relaxed, freedom of expression and also the activity of civil forces.
The pessimistic view is that the military elite will continue to monopolize power, although it has created scenes that suggest that there is a shift towards democracy. The more optimistic view is that Algerian society has reached a level of awareness and maturity after its history which is fraught with suffering, entitles him to move to true democracy, where the military can play a role of unity and reconciliation with the various components of Algeria.

The fifth presidential term

At a time when political parties and civil organizations are increasingly calling for Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to push him or justify his candidacy for a fifth term in the spring 2019 election, political opposition is spurring what it sees as a political adventure that will push the country to the unknown. This opposition has, outside political positions, the tools that enable it to block the path to Bouteflika's presumed candidacy. With great enthusiasm, Algeria's political opposition is renewing its attempts to veto early on Bouteflika's proposed candidacy for a fifth term.
While the Movement of Society for Peace is proposing a consensual initiative with the PA, the parties of the Socialist Forces Front, the Labor Party, the Justice and Development Front and the Party of Talents, led by former Prime Minister Ali Benflis. Young parties and independent political and civic figures have formed an opposition bloc called "Citizenship", which aims to prevent the "Fifth mandate Project". This bloc is trying to attract other opposition political forces, which support the same position.
The positions of political and civil forces, and even within the system itself, are not different from this position, nor the characterization of the current political situation and expected outcomes if the fifth presidential term is successful. However, it raises questions about the ability of any opposition group to prevent the project from happening and to avoid its future repercussions, in the absence of the opposition practical tools, political and popular, which can limit the momentum and enthusiasm of the Authority and its political arms towards it. Politicians and opposition activists acknowledge Bouteflika's policies.
“The opposition has no means at the present time, but to work to restore the confidence lost by the citizen... This is difficult The opposition may bet on other factors outside its industry The natural space of the opposition, the street, cannot squeeze through it .It cannot move it or control it”.
In 2014, the "Barakat" movement, which means “enough”, opposed in protests and rallies Bouteflika’ candidacy  for a fourth term in the April 2014 elections, despite  his severe suffering from a health disorder in April 2013 that made him hospitalized for 81 days in Paris. Barakat moved in the streets of the capital relatively in the direction of a critical and sharp stance in which political elites participated, it was the result of a project of an opposition bloc that takes into account the 2019 election bets. But this bloc was soon overwhelmed by the first electoral entitlement.
Outside the opposition bloc, the same positions are expressed about the weakness of the political opposition and its inability to seriously confront the proposed fifth mandate. In this context, The political community has been in a state of inertia for the benefit of power, in addition to the retreat of the critical and demanding revolutionary spirit of the Algerian population which created protest stations such as the Amazigh spring in April 1980, the October uprising 1988. This is in addition to the betrayal of elites and some opposition political parties that have changed their positions and manipulated power, so that the people are more absent from events and bets.
"The political scene in Algeria is witnessing unprecedented and disturbing movements, as party leaders, especially leaders of prominent national organizations, for those described by the public as "microscopic formations" have an advantage in moving the political media landscape, which is usually dry and It is dead and only recently it is quite the opposite. Now, political actors are getting in the right and north, and almost all seem to be in a hurry to put themselves in the face of the upcoming presidential election, which some say is critical to the future of the country".
I previously stated in another article attributed to me that the instability of Algeria is closely linked to the policies of the country, which many analysts consider to be forward-looking policies that are not based on logical planning, no understanding of social reality, or perhaps even deep political ignorance. But the truth is far from it. All that comes from power, even if it seems to civil society and political elites that it is not in line with reality, but all these decisions carefully studied and the dimensions of another policy.

The relation between economy and politics in Algeria

In one of the articles attributed to me published by Al Jazeera blogs, I stated that in November, before the New Year, Algeria was warned by the IGC because of its hydrocarbon-dependent economy and stressed the urgent need to normalize a range of reforms to diversify its national economy and avoid an economic crisis as early as 2019.
"The authorities are aware that the current model is losing its strength but is struggling to correct it," the report mentioned, referring to the popular frustration because economic reforms "tend to be delayed." According to the ICG, there are two factors that bring about these reforms: the influential "interest groups" that "defend the status quo" and which are related to the civil war (1992-2002) birth of the political and social problems that followed the austerity of the 1980s and 1990s.
The Center believes that budget cuts and "expansionary monetary policy, which feeds inflation and allows only the government to buy time without addressing the fundamental problems," adding that "in the end, Algeria can not only make minor technical adjustments to its economic policy," considering that it is inevitable Of the renegotiation of the "implicit social contract" in the country, the Algerian economy is still characterized by strong state intervention, and the policy of oil subsidies depends on fuel, water, energy, health, housing and basic products.
In the conclusion, we can only say that the road to which the country is heading is a crossroad that could be a historic turning point. The permanent struggle between the authoritarian forces and the people, which demanded only their political rights to secure a bright future for future generations that have yet to see hope in a country that is almost the richest country in Africa.
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