Graphics and Concepts: Thinking About Algerian Politics

The slides below were drawn up in 2009 and 2010; this blogger put them together in the course of ordinary research and used them mainly to journalists or others trying to familiarise themselves with the general contours of Algerian politics. More of these will appear on this blog shortly.

The first one deals with Bouteflika’s political ‘legitimacy’ within the Algerian political establishment and wider international community. The themes of the projection of certain images: order, stability, reconciliation, the centrality of the executive, normalcy. These are the sort of things the Algerian government would prefer the world gleaned from the Bouteflika presidency. Some of the points in the cultural and institutional level could be moved into each others’ places; a flaw in the concept here.

The next slide is a generalisation about the process of rule in Algeria in the 1960s and 1970s — what is remembered by some as a time of plenty under Boumediene. The objective with this slide is to draw parallels with Bouteflika’s style of rule, which draws heavily on methods and lessons from the Boumediene period (which were formative years for Bouteflika, when he was Foreign Minister and before that Minister of Sports and Youth, it was also a time of plentiful energy revenues and a post-conflict environment not unlike the 2000s in Algeria; many of the means of control under Boumediene were revitalised or revamped for the multiparty period under Bouteflika, especially the mass organisations and similar institutions). A similar slide used in other presentations adjusts this (no pictures)  to include tribal or other informal and local networks, aside from just categories of state institutions.

The third slide shows three ‘circles’ (really, rectangles) of power and elite influence: indirect elites, advisory elites and decideurs. These generalisations are meant to describe varying levels of influence official decisions and non-decisions, outcomes and processes in Algerian politics, mainly in terms of high politics, but it might be of some utility, with modifications, at lower levels. It draws on Isabelle Werenfels’s work on Algerian elite dynamics (Managing Instability in Algeria, 2007) and on Quandt’s work (Revolution and Political Leadership: Algeria 1954-1968, 1969).

The fourth slide is used to discuss continuity through the various periods of Algeria’s political history after the death of Boumediene. It begins with Chadhli Bendjedid, followed by the post 1988 infitah (opening) and the rise of the FIS, the 1992 coup d’etat and civil war and then the consolidation of Bouteflika’s rule after 1999. A question mark is probably the best adjustment to make at this point. In terms of continuity, the centrality of the price of hydrocarbons, the role of the military (and how this changes) and the direction of decisions made by important individual actors are usually focal points of discussion; the key characteristics of the Algerian regime and the fragmentation of Algerian society are other points of interest. It is not especially useful on its own, and is usually accompanied by other graphics and notes.


6 thoughts on “Graphics and Concepts: Thinking About Algerian Politics

  1. A quick question for clarification: In your last sentence “It is not especially useful on its own, and is usually accompanied by other graphics and notes.” does “It” refer to the last slide? You mention a few things in the sentence just before that so I was not sure.
    Also, do you use the slides to accompany oral presentations? They’re good illustrations, but for an audience lacking the context they may have limited use.

    • “They’re good illustrations, but for an audience lacking the context they may have limited use.”

      This is what I mean not especially useful on its own. These are captures of graphics that usually go into slides that have descriptive/thematic notes and/or come with an oral presentation/briefing. I have inserted similar graphics into posts on certain topics without elaboration (because the post explains them). These usually come with a larger slide, projector and discussion1

  2. Thank you a lot for your time to writing this post, i was searching for some information in this issue, i prepare my Research about this and that was very help full. Thanks.

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