Why Algeria won’t be next

A useful summary of why Algeria is unlikely to follow Tunisia and Egypt:

‘The organizers of the 12 February demonstration have vowed to hold weekly demonstrations until the government meets their demands. The CNCD, the coalition of opposition forces organizing the protests, suffers numerous obstacles in mobilizing the critical mass needed to produce the political pressure seen in Tunisia and Egypt. It lacks a mass following and it has not been able to attract large numbers of followers from the lower classes and rural people into its ranks. (As the 12 February protests went on poor families squatting in abandoned public housing were being confronted by police attempting to evict them in parts of the capital.) Additionally, the most vocal personalities associated with it — Said Sadi of the RCD and Ali Belhadj for example — alienate other opposition groups and many mainstream Algerians, put off by Sadi’s aggressive secularism and links to the security services and Belhadj’s religious views and links to the historic FIS. The CNCD benefits from good links to student groups though these need to be expanded to a broader set of campuses. Algeria lacks the credible social intermediaries that help make popular mobilization possible and effective; part of this is the result of regime policy (the near total absorption of civil society into the FLN during the one-party phase for example which has hindered business and labor groups from building strong roots in society) and partly the result of the atomization caused by careless urbanization and the Civil War (and the colonial experience before that). Social and political fragmentation give way to many of the problems facing Algerian society today and empower the regime’s hand in politics significantly.’

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