Algeria is on the threshold of a new and uncertain era. The mass movement against a fifth term for the ailing Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, appears to signal the end of an important cycle in the country’s political history. After weeks of protests, Bouteflika announced his resignation on April 2, 2019. In the wake of this decision, the chairman of the upper house of parliament, Abdelkader Bensalah, will be in charge as caretaker president for 90 days until elections are held. The army has promised to safeguard the transition process. However, there are concerns that Algeria’s political upheaval could pave the way for Le Pouvoir (the deep state) to re-establish control and protect its interests.
As the political transition unfolds, Algeria continues to face economic pressures. While the overall unemployment rate is estimated at 11.1 percent, the unemployment rate for youth under 30 years old – who make up two-thirds of the population – stands at 26.4 percent. Algeria’s currency reserves dropped from $179 billion in 2014 to $79.8 billion in 2019, while more than a fifth of the state’s budget is allocated to subsidies. Any incoming Algerian president will have to work hard to reconfigure the economy and put it on a more sustainable path.
The Brookings Doha Center held a public policy discussion entitled: “Algeria at a Crossroads: What will the Future Bring?” The discussion shed light on the state of affairs in Algeria and the prospects for stability and change and discussed the following questions: Will the country experience a peaceful transition of power? What socio-economic challenges await any incoming president and how will they be dealt with? Will the aspirations of millions of Algerians be heard, or will the deep state be able to maintain the status quo?
Research Fellow - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales
Senior Researcher - Al Jazeera Center for Studies
Professor & Director - Research in Geopolitics, KEDGE Business School
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