Building democratic alternatives to extremism in Algeria



Algerian law requires the next parliament to be made up of 30 percent women — but political parties across the spectrum have struggled to come up with enough female candidates to fill the quota, AP reports:

While universities in this Muslim North African nation are increasingly full of young women, politics is still largely seen as a male domain. A relatively macho culture, especially in the desert and rural heartland, has left many parties short of female options as they sift through thousands of potential candidates to finalize party lists by Sunday for the May 4 election. Sociologist Nasser Djabi described it as a “problem of society. Algerian political parties are macho. They haven’t invested in promoting women in politics.”

“They are disconnected to the evolution of Algerian society, where girls are in the majority in universities, and girls have higher success rates on exams,” he said. “Certain professions that have become more female, like the press, the legal system, education, health — but I see that the political parties remain closed in on themselves, and haven’t followed this movement of evolution.”

While preparing the population for austerity measures, the Algerian government is still scrambling for alternatives to avoid them, analyst Riccardo Fabiani writes for the Carnegie Endowment’s Sada journal.

The upcoming parliamentary elections will be an important milestone for Algeria as it struggles with low oil prices, a strained economic situation, youth unemployment, and an ailing president, notes Ahmed Morsy, a researcher at the School of International Relations, University of St. Andrews:

The elected representatives and the executive branch must tackle these impending challenges. The latest attempts at legal reforms and the 2016 constitutional amendments could be seen as a step toward more openness and transparency—but with a growing population and declining economic resources with which to sustain social peace, the stakes are high for the country’s political class.

The elections will also witness a small number of foreign observers from the United Nations, European Union, African Union, and the Arab League, he writes for the Carnegie Endowment, noting that in 2012 and 2014 the Algerian government allowed foreign NGOs like the Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to observe the elections.

Algerian troops recently killed nine Islamist militants in an operation in a mountainous region east of the capital that was once the stronghold of al Qaeda, Reuters reports:

But al Qaeda’s North Africa branch, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and small brigades of Islamic State-allied militants are still active, mostly in remote mountains and the desert south near the country’s frontiers.

The UN Democracy Fund reports that an UNDEF-funded project is being launched in Algeria to help consolidate democratic values and practices among young people in the northern province of Blida, with a particular focus on the rights of women and girls.

UNDEF held its eleventh call for proposals in November-December 2016, and received 3002 project proposals – the highest number in six years and the second highest in the history of the Fund. The proposals originated from organizations in 154 countries, the vast majority local NGOs in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

This response to the call for proposals will add to the considerable growth the Fund has experienced since its creation in 2005, and bring the total number of projects supported by the Fund to over 750, most of them two years long. UNDEF-supported initiatives all reflect a focus on strengthening the voice of civil society and encouraging the participation of all groups in democratic processes, thus concentrating on the demand side of democracy, rather than the supply side

What makes a successful civil society project? Learning lessons from UNDEF

The United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) is developing a new online resource that will provide a wealth of lessons learned over 10 years of project funding and evaluation. The World Federation of United Nations Associations will host an interactive dialogue to discuss the factors that lead to successful civil society projects and to preview the upcoming website.


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