These events have been further compounded by the impact of the
Since gaining independence in 1962, after a long and violent anti-colonial struggle against French rule, Algerian politics have been marred by turmoil and internal strife. A military takeover in 1965 provided the armed forces and security services with a powerful political position. The country’s security establishment, commonly referred to as Le Pouvoir [Power]
The 2019 demonstrations ushered in a new era in Algeria’s tormented politics, led by the new Hirak movement. The weekly protests, which quickly gained traction, evolved into an unprecedented call for a complete makeover of the country’s political system. Moving beyond initial demands for reforms, the protesters called for the removal of the ailing Bouteflika from office. They opposed the notion of him running again for a fifth presidential term, ostensibly as a figurehead for the opaque political system indirectly controlled by the security establishment. But the Hirak movement quickly came to represent a broader political current, with its “all out” slogan, calling for the departure of the entire political system’s figures. It
The Algerian government, fearing that the demonstrations would spiral out of control and destabilize the country,
The November 1 referendum, as noted, signaled the regime's only serious effort to address some of the political demands amplified by the Hirak and its supporters. The proposed constitutional amendments included re-imposing a two-term restriction on presidents, and a similar restriction on members of parliament. Another amendment would further guarantee freedom of the press. Critics assailed the government’s attempt for a “quick fix” to specific issues that Hirak never formally demanded. They resented the fact that no opposition figures participated in drafting the constitutional amendments, and that they failed to deliver any possibility of real change. President Tebboune’s hospitalization and continued absence add new uncertainty surrounding his legitimacy and ability to lead the country. The prospect of yet another ailing president like Bouteflika has further unsettled Algerians. As things stand now, Algeria’s political
Daniel Zisenwine is a Research Fellow at the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
 Zine Labidine Ghebouli, “
 Zine Labidine Ghebouli, “Coronavirus Will Change Both Algeria’s Political System and Its Opposition”, Fikra Forum, Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), April 9, 2020.
 Ahmed Rouaba, “Algeria’s Referendum: A Vote to End the ‘Years of Deviousness,” BBC, November 1, 2020.