Algeria Country Report 2020: Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review

Abstract

Throughout the assessment period (1 February 2017 – 31 January 2019), the unresolved question of the succession of ailing President Bouteflika had a negative impact on Algeria’s credibility and the implementation of necessary political, economic and social reforms. Sluggish decision-making and a failure to push forward on governance reforms, as well as the continued crisis associated with falling oil prices weakened Algeria’s previously strong financial standing. In contrast to the period following the contested 2014 election, there have been fewer politically motivated demonstrations, but political dissent has been subject to greater repression. Broad public rejection of the political process was manifest in a massive boycott of the 2017 legislative elections. Dissatisfaction with the opacity of politics in Algeria has been accompanied by local riots across the country and long-standing strikes in the medical and education sectors. The poor state of public services in response to several disasters, including cholera outbreaks, have prompted angry reactions and resentment among the public.

The new constitution adopted in 2016, which reinstated presidential term limits, identified Tamazight as an official language and strengthened the legislature, marked some progress in terms of the state’s efforts to integrate societal demands. However, public skepticism regarding the most serious reforms needed to strengthen justice, political participation and socioeconomic equality has been reinforced by the reversal of constitutional limits on the number of terms the president may serve. Only three years after the 2016 revisions to the constitution, the ruling parties declared Bouteflika to be their candidate – despite his seemingly poor health – thereby triggering mass protests that eventually led to the military dismissing Bouteflika on 2 April 2019 (i.e., beyond the scope of this assessment period).

The political and legal reforms introduced in 2011 that address associations, political parties, elections and the media meant new media outlets and political parties could be created and associations could be set up at the communal level. Nonetheless, associations now seemingly require government “authorization” and journalists are increasingly subject to repression if they criticize the government. The government’s response to political unrest across the country has been to reach out through public consultations and to offer short-term subsidies while also taking repressive counter-measures.

Anti-corruption initiatives and judicial reform remain significant challenges. The creation of a financial office in early 2019 designed to target corruption may deliver improvements, but could also be misused to target political opponents. The economy remains dominated by the public sector and hydrocarbons. Infrastructure as well as social programs and associations supported by the state continue to suffer from cuts resulting from ongoing austerity measures.

Changes to the hydrocarbon laws in 2013 to allow fracking for shale gas were pursued by the government as a solution to the energy crisis. It appears the laws will be changed again in 2019 to facilitate this activity, despite significant protests across the country on this issue in 2015.

On climate change policy, Algeria is one of the few countries that is on track in terms of reaching its commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. There have been advances made in environmental programs, startups and initiatives such as the Algiers smart cities program.

The expulsions of thousands of sub-Saharan African and Syrian migrants since 2017 has been condemned by human rights organizations.

Continued regional instability, the risk of terrorism spilling over from Libya and the Sahel, and the continued presence of armed groups in the Sahara mean that Algeria – Africa’s largest country in terms of territory – continues to play an important international role in the region.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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