Algeria: A Grassroots Movement for Change or Elite Political Gamesmanship?

    This brief provides an analysis of the underlying issues and dynamics in Algeria and seeks to answer questions related to the possibility of genuine change.

    Politics in Algeria is known for, if nothing else, its opacity. Since the end of the war of independence in 1962 the country has been governed by groups claiming to be the guardians of the legitimacy of the revolution. The latter emerged after a series of power struggles against their fellow comrades-in-arms. Subsequently, the historical legacy slowly diluted with more groups of shadowy, unelected power brokers taking over power nodes in the country. Known as “le pouvoir”, this cabal of ruling elites is composed of a constellation of high-ranking military officers, business oligarchs, political kingmakers, deep state apparatchiks, and media moguls. The country is currently governed by President Bouteflika’s National Liberation Front (FLN). For his part, the President has rarely been seen in public since he suffered a stroke in 2013. In response to his intention to seek a fifth term, seen by many Algerians as an insult to their dignity, remarkably peaceful demonstrations have erupted across Algeria.

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