The international dimension of the failed Algerian transition

The international dimension of the failed Algerian transition: Democracy betrayed?

FRANCESCO CAVATORTA
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt155jf58
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  • Book Info
    The international dimension of the failed Algerian transition
    Book Description:

    The book builds an innovative theoretical framework, through which previously neglected international factors are brought into the analysis of transitions to democracy. The case of Algeria is then explored in great detail. This volume is an important contribution to the literature on democratization and provides an interesting analysis of Algerian politics during the last two decades. More specifically, the book examines how international variables influence the behaviour and activities of Algerian political actors. By bridging the comparative politics and international relations literatures, the book offers a new understanding of the initiation, development and outcome of transitions to democracy. International factors, far from being marginal and secondary, are treated as central explanatory variables. Such external factors were crucial in the Algerian failed transition to democracy, when the attitudes and actions of key international actors shaped the domestic game and its final outcome. In particular, the book explores the controversial role of the Islamic Salvation Front and how its part was perceived abroad. In addition the book argues that international factors significantly contribute to explaining the persistence of authoritarian rule in Algeria, to its integration into the global economy and its co-optation into the war on terror. This book will be useful for scholars and students of processes of democratisation, for Middle East and North Africa specialists and for general readers interested in the role of international actors across the Arab world.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-277-8
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction: Algeria’s failed process of democratisation
    (pp. 1-8)

    In October 1988 Algeria experienced a seemingly sudden explosion of street violence triggered by economic and social discontent. People protested against the economic reforms the government had introduced and for a few days chaos reigned in the country. These riots were to be a turning point because they provided the opportunity for President Chadli and for the soft-liners within the regime to introduce significant political reforms resulting in an attempt to turn the country into a fully-fledged democratic state which would embrace economic liberalism (Quandt, 1998; Malti, 1999).

    For a few days during the month of October, the country was...

  6. 2 Regime change and international variables
    (pp. 9-40)

    The literature on transitions to democracy emphasises three distinct clusters of explanations for their occurrence and development. The first is what we can call the ‘preconditions of democracy’, whereby countries will transit to democracy when specific economic or social conditions are satisfied. The second is preoccupied with the ‘political culture’ of the country under investigation. While the emphasis on political culture has been increasingly discredited, when it comes to analyses of the Arab world, it reasserts its strength quite forcefully. The third relies on explanations purely based on the path-dependent game between domestic actors. This chapter analyses the shortcomings of...

  7. 3 Explaining Algeria’s transition: the international connection
    (pp. 41-72)

    This chapter has three main objectives. First of all it aims to construct a framework of transitions that includes international variables, using theoretical assumptions drawn from international relations theories. Such framework can also help understand the subsequent role that the country under examination will play in the international system. The second objective is to specify the components of this framework. In particular, it will focus on detailing the two fundamental dimensions briefly explored in Chapter 2. The two dimensions along which countries should be categorised take into account both the economic and political-strategic aspects of the international system. Finally, the...

  8. 4 The external context of the Algerian transition
    (pp. 73-88)

    Before analysing whether the hypotheses outlined in Chapter 3 are confirmed by the evidence gathered, it is necessary to describe in greater detail the external environment with which Algeria had to contend before, during and after its problematic transition.

    Huntington’s study (1991: 45) of why so many countries democratised or attempted to do so at a particular moment sees ‘the unprecedented global economic growth of the 1960s’ as central. In Algeria however, the timing of the process of liberalisation coincided with a significant internationallydriven crisis of its rentier state model, which had a profound impact on its economic structures. After...

  9. 5 The external–internal linkages of the transition
    (pp. 89-122)

    The first element that needs to be analysed is the role played by the economic crisis of 1985-86 in ‘forcing’ the ruling elites to open up the system. It has been established that government revenues fell due to the oil counter-shock and this led to widespread impoverishment among the general population, which in turn led to the October 1988 riots. Due to the outbreak of violence the ruling elite decided to open up the political system. The question that should be asked is the following: did the externally driven downturn in the economy have a causal link to the decision...

  10. 6 Islamism and democracy: international perceptions
    (pp. 123-147)

    The international dimension of the failed Algerian process of democratisation is an important part of the story because it not only contributes to explain such failure, but also because it indirectly addresses very important contemporary issues about the prospects of democracy in the Arab world. From the previous analysis, it emerges that it is around the emergence of the FIS as the largest opposition movement in Algeria that the whole transition turned. It is largely the rise of the Islamist movement that shaped the attitudes and determined the choices of the other domestic and international actors. This is not to...

  11. 7 From partners to allies: the integration of authoritarian Algeria in the international system
    (pp. 148-179)

    The research findings support the contention that the international dimension played a significant role in the origin, development and conclusion of the failed Algerian transition. In particular, a set of coinciding interests between key domestic and international constituencies was decisive in ending an electoral process that would have seen the establishment of a FIS-led government. The process of democratisation might have ended even if the FIS had been allowed to govern, as there were serious doubts about its democratic credentials and commitment, but this situation did not arise because of a preventive military coup, which was externally sanctioned and welcomed....

  12. 8 Conclusion
    (pp. 180-192)

    Since the mid-1970s the move away from authoritarian forms of rule to democratic governance represents a highly significant political phenomenon. The number of democracies has increased and this change has been captured in the literature on transitions. The end-product of many transitions has been the establishment of Western-style liberal-democracies, but many other countries have either experienced a return to authoritarian rule or are suspended in the limbo of ‘liberalised autocracies’ (Brumberg, 2002). Whatever the final outcome of the transition, it is important to examine how such outcomes come about. The examination and theorising of processes of regime change has been...

  13. References
    (pp. 193-206)
  14. Index
    (pp. 207-212)