Research Journal 13

Where is Algeria Transitioning to?

It is certain that Algeria is facing challenging obstacles in order to transition to a fully democratized state. The power struggles between the political and military elites have been withholding the country from implementing such transition. These power struggles have been seen in the examples of factionalism, the military perceiving itself as the heir of the nation, and the race to acquire a large portion of the economic cake. Moreover, one of the main challenges of democratization in Algeria has been associated with the problem of generations. According to the Algerian sociologist and political science professor Nacer Djabi, the failure power transition that leads to a democratic change in Algeria is associated with three generations. The first generation is the generation of the revolution (la famille révolutionnaire). This generation consists of the people who made the revolution and fought for the war of independence against France. Professor Nacer Djabi describes this generation as being smart and controlling. For instance, this generation is known by not having achieved higher educational levels, yet they have a long experience in governance. This generation forms the top political and military elite currently in Algeria. This generation views the other generations as politically immature and that it is not safe to proceed with an uncertain political transition and hand the country’s affairs to them. This first generation is looked at by respect and fear by the second generation while the third generation looks at them with discontent and unhappiness. The second generation is the generation which was born during the last ten years of colonialism and the first ten years after the independence. The second generation is the generation that participated heavily in building and developing Algeria. They have a better educational level than the first generation and also have the authority to economic and social decision making. However, this generation does not have the authority for the political decision making because it is monopolized by the first generation. This generation is heavily present in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the government in Algeria. This generation received its governance training from the first generation which was the generation that placed them in their current positions in the government. Therefore, this generation does not actively look for change because they perceive the first generation as the real saviors of Algeria and are usually fearful and shy from creating a significant change. At the same time, this generation whose age range starts from fifty years old still hopes for reaching the elite’s positions. According to Dr. Nacer Djabi, one can find a sixty year old person who has been serving in the government for decades still hoping to reach higher leadership positions whereas the normal expectation is that people at that age would have to retire according to the Algerian law. Therefore, the real problem that is holding Algeria from transitioning to democracy lies in the second generation. This second generation is the one that implements the quick fix solutions decided for it by the first generation to buy social peace in order to perpetuate the system. Moreover, this generation is a pure product of the single party system, yet it is functioning in the multiparty era with practices of the old one. Even though this generation has high management skills, it is perceived by the first generation as being there to execute only while it is viewed by the younger generation as stubborn bureaucrats. The third generation is the generation which was born during the last thirty five years. This generation forms percent of the population. This generation has still not had its chances to reach medium and high leadership positions. This generation has the virtues of being highly educated, open to other cultures, and master foreign languages. This generation is known by its advanced skills and rapid adoption of new technological inventions. For this young generation, they believe that instead of engaging into formal political parties in which they lost hope to implement change, they use other means to express themselves and their opinions using means such as social media. As previously stated, this generation perceives the first generation negatively; sometimes to the point where they express their doubts about the legitimacy of this generation as far as nationalism and the war of independence. Some of the comments that the third generation makes to the first generation is that they are corrupted and sign of wealth are obvious on their lifestyles while they are isolated from the daily problems of Algerians. This is due to the absence of the young generation in the institutions that are controlled by the first generation. However, the third generation looks at the second generation more positively due to several reasons. The second generation is present in the constitutional institutions, companies, universities, and civil societies where they have access to an immediate contact with the younger generation.

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