Algeria: transition on hold


While Algeria escaped the worst excesses of the Arab uprisings, the multiple challenges that it has confronted in the past five years since those events remain unchanged, notes John P. Entelis, a professor of political science and associate director of the Middle East Studies Program at Fordham University.

Indeed, given the drastic reduction in hydrocarbon-generated revenues, the regime will have difficulty sustaining both its coercive mode of societal control and its strategy of buying off opposition through rapid infusion of public spending on basic goods and services including raising salaries of state employees and expanding public housing construction, he writes for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog:

The ongoing civilian-military struggle over who will control the upcoming presidential succession further fuels the uncertainty surrounding Algeria’s ability to maintain its outlier status as a stable, secure and successful polity amidst the revolutionary violence that surrounds it…..

Key questions remain. Given the current political, security and socioeconomic crises facing the country, does the regime still have the capacity to co-opt opposition and buy social peace in the manner and style once considered “routine” for regime elites? Does the latest iteration of constitutional engineering substitute for previous co-opting strategies or simply represent a continuation of past practices? Is the pressure for fundamental institutional reform from high-profile individuals sufficiently comprehensive and sustained to transition Algeria from its current “competitive authoritarian” mode of governance to a genuine democracy? Finally, does the demilitarization of the Algerian polity now underway serve as a fundamental precondition for the advent of law-bound government, or is civilian rule as devoid of democratic propensities as its military counterpart?


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