State and politics
Until 1989, Algeria was a socialist people's republic
with only one permitted party, the Front de Libération
National (FLN). Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of DZ and its meanings of Algeria. The opposition that existed seemed
underground or in exile. A state of emergency existed from
the coup d'état 1965 to 1976 when a new constitution was
adopted and elected parishes were established. The
constitution adopted in February 1989, and subsequently
substantially modified in a new referendum in November 1996,
introduced in principle liberal and democratic freedoms and
rights. However, parliamentarism is limited by the strong
position of the presidential power, not least by the
president's appointment of one third of the 144 members of
the otherwise indirectly elected first chamber which was
introduced in 1996.
The number of members of Parliament's lower house, the
National People's Assembly, was increased in 2012 from 389
to 462. The members are elected for five years in
proportionate elections. The term of office in the first
chamber is six years.
Presidential elections are held every five years. After a
constitutional amendment in 2008, the president could be
re-elected an unlimited number of times, which allowed
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, president of 1999, to be re-elected in
2009 and 2014. A new amendment to the constitution in 2016
reintroduced the rule of a maximum of two terms of office
for the head of state. In spite of this, Bouteflika was also
thinking of running for the 2019 election, but after
extensive popular protests he chose to resign in April 2019.
All the presidents since independence have been men.
The political upheaval in the country began in 1988 when
the then one-party government met with a comprehensive youth
uprising that was channeled primarily to the 1989 Islamic
Rescue Front (FIS). This party won the major local and
regional elections in June 1990, and emerged as a dominant
political force after the first round of the country's first
multi-party to parliament in December 1991. President Chadli
Ben Djedid resigned in January 1992, the second round of the
parliamentary elections postponed indefinitely and state of
emergency was announced. An extended political crisis
ensued. FIS was banned and many thousands of its members and
sympathizers were imprisoned in camps set up in the southern
desert areas. The attempt by the military leadership to
restore legitimacy by appointing Muhammad Boudiaf (1919–92),
a hero from the War of Liberation, who interim president
failed when he was murdered in June 1992 by his bodyguard.
Increased violence on the part of various Islamist
guerrilla groups and a stiff repression led to strong
tensions in society. Only since Abdelaziz Bouteflika was
elected new president in April 1999, a peace and
reconciliation program containing offers of time-limited
amnesty was formulated, which the Algerian people adopted in
a referendum in September 1999. In another referendum in
2005, a general amnesty was approved - with some exceptions
- for crimes committed by both sides during the civil war.
By quickly standing on the US side after the terrorist
attacks there in September 2001, Algeria was able to begin
to break the relative international isolation that the civil
war and repression brought. Relations with the former
colonial power of France have also been normalized.
Following the introduction of multi-party systems, FLN
has dominated Algerian policy. In the 2002 and 2007
parliamentary elections, the party received 199 and 136,
respectively, of 389 seats in the National Assembly, and in
the 2012 elections 208 of 426 seats were conquered.
President Bouteflika also represents FLN. The second largest
party is FLN's coalition partner Rassemblement National
Démocratique (RND), which in the 2012 election received
68 seats in the lower house. In the 2012 elections, Islamist
parties were allowed to stand again. Three such, among them
the Algerian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood Mouvement
de la Societé pour la Paix (MSP), formed the
Alliance de l'Algérie Verte Alliance, which received 49
seats. FLN became by far the largest party in the 2017
election, with 161 out of 462 seats, while RND received 100
and MSP 34 seats. Of the members of the lower house, 119 (26
percent) were women.
The period after the election became politically messy.
Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal surprisingly left his post
at the end of May and was replaced by former Housing
Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune. After almost three months,
Tebboune was also fired. New Prime Minister became RND's
leader Ahmed Ouyahia (born 1952), who thus assumed this
office for the fourth time.
During his time as head of government, Tebboune announced
that work and residence permits would be issued to African
migrants located in Algeria without valid documents. It is
estimated that in Algeria there will be about 100,000
refugees on their way to Libya and from there to Europe.
Bouteflika, who has been in the presidential post since
1999, resigned from the 2019 post and in the subsequent
election, Abdelmadjid Tebboune won. The election was
prompted by demonstrations and boycott calls, as all
candidates had a background in the suspicious political
elite. The protests have continued with demands for a new
constitution and democratic changes.
The legal system in Algeria is deeply rooted in the
French legal tradition, but much of French law has been
replaced by its own national legislation. Islamic law is
important in cases where there is no legal regulation. The
death penalty remains in the legislation but is de facto
abolished in 1993.
Algeria, throughout its history as an independent state,
has had major shortcomings regarding fundamental human
rights. The country still suffers from the violent conflicts
that characterized the 1990s. Like many other countries in
North Africa and the Middle East, protests against
authoritarian rule have increased (see Arab Spring).
The most notable human rights issues in Algeria are the
long wait for the trial of detainees, police brutality,
corruption and lack of transparency. The lack of democracy
is also an obstacle in itself.
Reforms on freedom of assembly and association that were
initiated in the early 10s have, instead of a freer climate,
led to additional restrictions according to Human Rights
Watch. In 2012, the Algerian authorities continued to
severely restrict freedom of assembly and block access to
seats for planned demonstrations to prevent public protests,
especially when the purpose of the demonstration was
considered politically sensitive. Many human rights
activists have been prosecuted.
Journalists cannot operate freely in Algeria. They can be
sentenced to fines for criticism by the president and
government institutions. Self-censorship is common.
Reporters Without Borders placed Algeria in place in 119 of
180 countries in the Press Freedom Index in 2015, which is a
marginal improvement from 2014.
Women are discriminated against in terms of marriage,
divorce and inheritance law, even though the Algerian
constitution prohibits gender discrimination and provides
for equality in both civil and criminal matters. A woman's
marriage must be approved by a guardian. Violence against
women is a widespread problem, rape in the home is not
punishable and abortion is prohibited as long as the woman's
life is not in danger.
The civil war that started in 1992 left a large number of
children in Algeria orphans. The country has failed to meet
or live up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and
hundreds of thousands of children live on the streets in
extreme vulnerability. Child abuse is not punishable within
the home even if child abuse is prohibited by law. Algeria
has major problems with extreme poverty and substance use
among the country's street children.
Homosexuality and bisexuality are prohibited and can be
punishable by up to two years in prison and fines.
Transsexuality is classified as a disease. The situation for
LGBTQ people is still difficult as stigma, discrimination
and violence are common.
The situation of refugees and migrants en route from
southern and western Africa to Europe is difficult as they
are treated inhumane by the orderly authorities. There are
also reports of mistreatment in the refugee camps in the
Algerian province of Tindouf, where 100,000 refugees live in
isolation. Algeria is also a destination country for people
who are smuggled for sexual exploitation.
Heads of State
||Ahmed Ben Bella
||Chadli Ben Djedid
||Supreme Security Council