Algeria After the Arab Spring

Algiers Came Out Ahead—But the Good Times Could Be Over

Algerians chant and dance while holding rifles at the opening of an event at Algiers, June 4, 2006. Reuters

In early 2011, most pundits expected that Algeria—plagued by corruption, nepotism, deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, restricted freedoms, housing shortages, and bad governance—would be the next country to face an Arab Spring uprising. And although riots did shake the country, they were contained swiftly (and without bloodshed) by a large, well trained, well equipped, and well paid police force.

To this day, sporadic and localized strikes, protests, and riots are routine. There are sometimes as many as 500 a month. But, generally speaking, the regime has been able to address them through payoffs in the form of higher salaries or housing vouchers. Protests, in other words, are kept localized and opposition groups have little popular support. Besides, many of them have been co-opted by the government, with leaders of most of the opposition parties having participated in one way or another in successive governments.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has been able to

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