It is well-known that Algeria, despite its elections and constitution, is not a democratic country. The Economist Intelligence Unit has given Algeria a rank of 3.44 out of 10 in their 2011 Democracy Index. This ranking categorizes Algeria as an authoritarian country.
It seems that the root of the government’s authoritarianism comes from the political and guerilla groups that fought for independence from France from 1954 to 1962. Those groups combined forces; yet, there was never any clear hierarchy allowing for secrecy in decision-making. Moreover, military planners always had more power than civilian or political leaders and assassinated some of them even before Algeria was an official state.
This presentation looks to analyze the structure and functioning of the Algerian government since its origin but with a focus on the present. Special attention will be paid to how multiple aspects of the country illustrate either the power or the resilience of the Algerian authoritarian system.
This includes the government’s election practices, corruption, revenue from oil and natural gas, how Islamists groups have been tamed or infiltrated, and how this plays a role in the “partnerships” Algeria has with Western powers, notably France and the U.S. Lastly, I will talk about why in Algeria the Arab Spring inspired demonstrations, but not a civil uprising as in other countries, and how the government’s handling of those demonstrations illustrates its strategy for staying in power.
Eva Moynihan, ’13
Majors: International Relations, French
Sponsor: Devan Baty