Prepared by: Farid Baghdad – writer and researcher on Algerian and Maghreb affairs

  • Arab Democratic Center

Algeria is entering a second stage within the path out of its political crisis, which began with an overwhelming popular rejection of the candidacy of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in February 2019, which turned within days into a popular movement that raises multiple political demands, the most important of which is the dropping of Bouteflika’s fifth term, to end up imposing power. Transition is a constitutional reading of the solution, beginning with an extension that was more like an interpretation outside the context of the constitutional text, for the term of Abdelkader Bensalah’s presidency of the state until the election of a president of the republic 1 , during which presidential elections held great ambiguity about its integrity; And specifically the method of summoning the electoral commission, which was in the form of an explicit order issued by the Chief of Staff Ahmed Qaid Salih, in which he determined its date . On September 15, 2019, which was approved by the President of the State, Abdelkader Bensalah, who issued a decision to hold presidential elections three months later on December 12, 2019, which were won by candidate Abdel Majid Tebboune, affiliated with the regime, which further reinforced the existing doubts By the fact that the actual authority has created a political approach that is conducive to solving the crisis of power transfer in the country.

Eleven months away from the presidencies of December 2019, the referendum on the constitution on Al-Fatih of November 2020 comes as a second step in the way of forming the Algerian system for the political scene, and it led to a clear division of the Algerian street regarding the new constitution, between boycotts, rejecters and supporters. .

  1. The Algerian political street after the February 22 movement, 2019

The ceilings of the varying political demands of each political current within the popular movement, over the course of months, contributed to dividing the political arena into two prominent currents, each carrying a vision for resolving the political crisis based on variables governing its political behavior, the most important of which is the survival / demise variable of the previous regime’s symbols, especially those that It took it upon itself to conduct the transitional phase according to the language of the 2016 constitution, in addition to the continuity / rupture variable with the system of government as a whole and the foundation for a new political system.

  • Advocates of the foundational path:

The justifications for this trend for change take a radical turn in its approach to the causes of the political crisis, as it puts its finger directly on the problematic method of governance in Algeria, as it believes that it is based since independence on an actual authority with a military and intelligence background that instructs a civilian front to advance it at home and abroad to implement its will on Although the leadership of the military establishment explicitly declared during the presidential election campaign about a year ago the end of the era of manufacturing presidents 3 , the supporters of this current still clinging firmly to their perception of authoritarian relations that are based on existing official institutions but always lack legitimacy that reflects real popular representation. It represents a legacy of Bouteflika’s rule, which was marred by many violations regarding the integrity and transparency of the electoral process that produced these institutions, and this political trend still confirms that it has remained in place after his resignation, which was forced by the army leadership 4And although the popular movement demanded its dissolution from the beginning, along with the power parties that it accuses of spoiling political life and using corrupt political money for more than two decades, the transitional authority or even the elected president, Abdel Majid Tebboune, did not heed these demands, as there is no document The constitution submitted to the referendum includes what this includes, and on this basis, this current categorically rejects the participation of the power parties, especially the National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally, in the foundational path that it demands as the only solution to the crisis, and after the constitutional path became an inevitable reality imposed by the transitional authority headed by the Speaker of Parliament Abdul Qadir Bensalah categorically rejects this current participation in the presidency and boycotted it, just as a wide spectrum of it forms a heterogeneous group of different partisan and independent sensitivities, from the far right to the far left, and ideologically contradictory, but it unites on the foundational solution, which still insists on boycotting The referendum on the constitution inThe light of next November.

  • Supporters of a constitutional solution:

At the beginning of the popular rallies, this team started out of fears that stuck it throughout the weeks of the movement, which witnessed a crisis between the demonstrators and the transitional authority from the unknown future awaiting the Algerian state, as the specter of the fate of the Arab Spring countries, with manifestations of destruction and fragility varying from one country to another, loomed over the Algerian political street. After the movement initially refused to hold presidential elections called by the President of the State, Abdel Qader Bensalah, on July 4, 2019, during his three-month constitutional period, however, the entry of Chief of Staff Ahmed Qaid Saleh on the crisis line on a weekly basis through his speeches that he was giving during his graduations The field, which clearly and consistently included the vision of the military institution to solve the crisis, made a large part of the movement lining up behind it, especially as it provided a convincing reading to it regarding the causes of the crisis that he linked to a corrupt “gang” that was running the helm of government, and it showed the affiliation and commitment of the Arab-Islamic army Statement of the editorial revolution5 .

In addition to the Arab-Islamic trend within the movement, the supporters of the power parties remained. The National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally are waiting for an appropriate opportunity to take part in the map of the new stage, which has come since the vision of the military establishment for a solution became clear, so this team supported the procedures of the transitional authority backed by the army institution, which led to the holding of presidential elections on December 12. 2019 was marred by a lot of confusion over the non-consensual path that led to it, starting with the method of forming the National Dialogue Committee and appointing its head, Karim Younes; The head of the Algerian Parliament during Bouteflika’s first presidential term (1999-2004), along with its members, which met with a categorical rejection of the movement accompanied by the reluctance of prominent political and national figures and figures to join it; The most prominent of them were Ahmed Taleb Al-Ibrahimi and Abdel Aziz Rehabi, former ministers 6Through the appointment of the Election Supervision Committee, which is headed up to now by Mohamed Charfi, who is affiliated with Bouteflika, as he had previously held the position of Minister of Justice during his term.

  1. Pitfalls of the new constitutional amendment

President Abdel Majid Tebboune presented his document to amend the constitution in exceptional circumstances characterized by the spread of the Corona pandemic, which cast its shadow through the preventive measures followed on the marches of the popular movement, as it witnessed a technical halt that did not, however, lead to the supporters of the founding solution conceding their basic demands that were accompanied by their categorical rejection of the option The constitutional authority and the lack of implicit recognition of the legitimacy of Abdel Majid Tebboune as the president of the republic, which seemed not to be aware of the perceptions of this trend as he proceeded with his plan to get out of the effects of the power transfer crisis, which was the next stage of the constitutional amendment.

The inauguration of Ahmed Laarraba Committee to prepare constitutional proposals

The appointment of the President of the Republic, Abdel-Majid Tebboune, to Ahmed to Araba, a professor of law, to head the expert committee charged with preparing proposals to amend the constitution on January 8, 2020, a great shock to the Algerian political street, which was still witnessing weekly rallies of the popular movement raising radical demands and calling Bouteflika , the departure of all system codes, and is Ahmed Godmother , who serves as a member of the international law Commission of the United Nations since 72012, the architect of the constitutional amendments made by resigning President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2008, which allowed him to open the presidential mandates, which were defined in the 1996 constitution with a mandate renewable only once, which allowed Bouteflika to complete his fourth term while he is in a very poor health condition. A broad debate about the extent of his personal supervision of political files and the role of his brother Said Bouteflika in managing the wheels of power, and his interference in the issue of his candidacy for a fifth term met with widespread popular rejection that turned on February 22, 2019 into a massive movement in the streets and squares of Algerian cities, this is in addition to the last amendment in 2016, and who was waiting for him a lot Algerian political street being brought against the backdrop of massive social protests coincided with the Arab spring revolutions known locally staged oil and sugar 8However, Bouteflika retained broad powers in it, confirming that the constitutional amendment path that he started at that time by launching a broad partisan and community counseling campaign was nothing but a diversion to gain time and wait for the dramatic outcome of the Arab Spring revolutions that gives him legitimacy to impose his will and allow him to circumvent popular demands raised Five years ago, he amended the constitution in 2016.

Perhaps this constitutional and legal balance of Ahmed to Araba and his contribution to the constitutional release of Bouteflika’s rule in an ambiguous manner made him appear in the guise of an accomplice, that is what made the popular movement and the Algerian street receive the appointment of President Tebboune to him, as a continuation of the methods of managing the country and the response of Tebboune from his electoral promises. In making fundamental changes affecting the system of government.

Amalgamated articles make the new constitution lose consensus and consensus

Arraba’s statements that the elements of the Algerian identity, Islam, Arab and Amazigh, will disappear in the future from the country’s constitution, in favor of perpetuating the values ​​of citizenship and equality among all Algerians, a provocation to the Algerian political street, where he affirmed in this regard that Algerian society is not yet ready for the concept of citizenship, “The constitution is directed to citizens, not to believers, Thus, the elements of identity can be removed from the constitution gradually, so that any Algerian can be a citizen only without being Arab, Berber, or Muslim, and thus the elements that make up identity will disappear from the constitution in the future ” 9 .

Arraba’s vision was confirmed when he presented his presentation on proposals to amend the constitution to President Abdel Majid Tebboune, which did not bring anything new that could distinguish it from the 2016 constitution, as the street was divided about it between rejecting the empowerment of the Amazigh language in his non-final document and welcoming it, and he opened a community discussion about it. A group of political parties that boycotted the presidential elections; Similar to the Peace Society Movement, the Justice and Development Front and the Ennahda Movement, which all belong to the Islamic trend, and this discussion, in addition to the identity articles, focused on the system of government, especially the nature of the political system and the powers of the President of the Republic, which seemed to this political faction to have neglected the issue of adherence to a clear separation between The authorities in his constitutional document, whereby the President of the Republic, despite returning to the one-term presidential system that can be renewed only once, acquires the status of Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the first judge in the country, in addition to his exclusivity with a large share of

Even after many of the proposals made by parties, civil organizations and national figures were relegated to the final version of the constitution, they still carry a lot of ambiguity about the way to form the government, as it contains a constitutional heresy that cannot be found in any constitutional document around the world 10 , because it includes two possibilities With regard to the issue of the government emerging from the majority that wins parliamentary elections, the first is with him a presidential majority, which leads to the President of the Republic appointing a first minister who undertakes the implementation of his electoral program, and the second becomes with him the ability of the parliamentary majority, whose meaning suggests that it is affiliated with the opposition, to have a prime minister Appointed by the President of the Republic and entrusted with implementing the program of the parliamentary majority in coordination with the President of the Republic 11 .

Institutions lacking popular legitimacy:

Despite the fact that Algeria witnessed a massive popular movement that filled the squares and streets with chants demanding the departure of the regime’s symbols, and the dissolution of institutions and elected councils, in addition to the two parties of power; The National Liberation Front and the National Democratic Rally, which the angry street see as one of the main reasons for the spread of political and economic corruption that marked the rule of the “gang”, but the constitutional path chosen by the transitional authority represented by the army and the head of state Abdul Qadir bin Saleh imposed the survival of all inherited institutions Regarding Bouteflika’s reign as it is, God is nothing but the election of the parliamentarian, Suleiman Shanin, for the Justice-Renaissance-Building bloc, who is affiliated with the opposition as president of the lower chamber 12, Which seemed outwardly, despite being a reassuring message for the angry movement, that the actual power is pushing towards the continuity of the state and avoiding its collapse. However, the esoteric purposes of this endeavor were not hidden and revealed with the constitutional path reaching its end after the election of Abdel Majid Tebboune as President of the Republic, in a way that raised many Questions about his being a candidate for the actual authority led by the army institution, in addition to his drafting a constitutional document that did not constitute a break with previous practices, that the choice of this path, which culminated in a constitutional document, voted to pass it by a parliament that gathered many political and movement circles over its loss of popular legitimacy. Its truth is nothing but a circumvention of the demands of the movement and tireless efforts to pass the vision of the regime to the next stage that ensures that its institutions remain unchanged, without being affected by the slightest change that may affect the essence of the system of government based on the broad powers of the President of the Republic, which allows the army institution to deal with it easily and pass its will through him, without being affected by it. Interrupted by the accountability of Parliament orAccountability from the judiciary.

  • The political arena on the eve of the referendum on the constitution

With the beginning of the election campaign for the referendum, the voting tendencies of a number of political parties became evident, some of which called on their national and consultative councils and central committees to decide on the position of their parties regarding the referendum. The National Democratic Party and its militants to vote “yes” on “any consensual Algerian constitution document that does not affect the fundamentals of the people” 13 , and the National Liberation Front and the Amal Group of Algeria, the parties affiliated with the loyalty in Bouteflika’s rule, expressed their support for the constitution, in what appeared to be an attempt to sign again. In a political arena that witnessed a violent earthquake, on the impact of corruption cases against its leaders, who are currently in prison, some of whom have been sentenced by the judicial authorities and are still awaiting trial in other cases 14 .

Perhaps the decision of the National Building Movement affiliated with the Islamic movement to vote in favor of the constitution represented, despite its expectation by many observers, a position against the rest of the Islamic currents that decided their rejection of the constitution and called on their party bases and the general Algerian people to vote “No”, while the Muslim Scholars Association expressed “reservation and fear about the implications of some of the articles relating to national identity, and the status of Islam as well as ambiguity on the subject of freedom of worship, and not set with regard to the national unity of the concepts, and also related the official language of the country” 15 .

The decision of the National Building Movement comes in the context of its political philosophy of “reform participation and positive opposition” 16 , which imposed on it to play the role of a contributor in political life through its leadership of the National Forces for Reform Commission. It is a grouping of parties and civil society organizations, which presented a set of proposals to amend the constitution, and the movement appreciated accepting power for most of it, which ultimately prompted it to decide to stand with it in order to support a constitutional document whose owner welcomed a significant aspect of its political vision within it.

And if the authority relies on its traditional electoral base to pass the draft constitution, then those who reject it and boycott it, and who do not hide their fear of fraud that will be referred to as a referendum, will only find social media to express their views, as they form the class with a good educational level and the educated elite, which is This was revealed by several pages and groups on Facebook in particular, which outweighed the supporters, for whom the public authorities opened all the media and public spaces for the success of their referendum campaign, to the point where the scenario of voting to pass the constitution appeared more likely than its rejection 17This seems natural in light of the resentment of the parties that reject it at the way the authority deals with its referendum campaign. Either by preventing it from fulfilling its right to organize its own campaign in its media space, especially on state television and private channels, in addition to the national and local authorities’ refraining from providing licenses to use public places for the purpose of holding gatherings for them within the framework of the constitutional referendum campaign, for each of the two parties of the Justice and Development Front 18 And the Peace Society Movement, whose leader Abdel Razzaq Maqri threatened to take refuge in the street again, in the event that “the official authorities reneged on their pledges to agree and provide conditions for freedoms and democracy.” He also stressed that “returning the situation to what it was during Bouteflika’s era will inevitably lead to an outbreak Another popular movement ” 19 .

  1. The post-referendum stage

Perhaps the clear indication that indicates the direction of the constitutional referendum towards its passage is that nothing has changed from the previous one regarding the entire course of the electoral process, which is determined by the authority in the absence of a truly independent election body, and according to different methods, it relies primarily on its present traditional base In all its electoral elections, in exchange for a wide radical boycott, which allows the authority to pass its projects easily and with moderate participation rates at each election date, which ultimately makes them locally acceptable and can legitimize the Algerian regime internationally.

With the passage of the constitution document presented to the popular referendum, President Abd al-Majid Tebboune has overcome a necessary obstacle to proceed with the embodiment of his political project, especially in order to complete the features of his image as President of the Republic dealing with new elected institutions, even if it is in a formal way, as the final stage of this awaits him. The project, which follows a solution to all the elected legislative and local councils, followed by early elections at the beginning of next year, does not seem to produce a new political map. For the system intact.

On the other side of the path of authority; The various sensitivities of the popular movement are still determined to continue to embody its vision of a solution far from the approaches of the political system. The 22-2 initiative, which is affiliated with the founding movement in the popular movement, has published the “Call 22” project statement on its Facebook page 20, In which she clarified her perception of getting out of the political crisis by “the people writing their consensual constitution through democratically elected legitimate institutions,” and affirming “the possibility of smooth political change if the intentions are true and the interests of the country prevail, through a process that begins with the release of all prisoners of the movement without conditions Respecting the right to demonstrate and express opinion, liberate the judiciary, open the media, and dissolve elected institutions. ”In the same context, the Movement for Freedom and Sovereignty – under establishment – expressed its conviction that“ the draft constitution was not drafted in a participatory manner as it did not stem from a national dialogue. ” and even the option to vote “no” movement , which it considers the best and most effective, “did not have a political and legal conditions that guarantee to be effective , ” 21 .


The draft constitutional amendment, which is most indicative that it will surpass the referendum in peace, did not bring about fundamental changes at the level of the system of government, as it kept all its balances in the hands of the President of the Republic, who does not seem to deviate much in the future from the red lines drawn by the army leadership, Through its indirect interference in political life; Whether through speeches delivered by Chief of Staff Saeed Chengriha, which witnessed intensity during the referendum campaign, reaching 5 speeches until 27 October 2020, which raised a problem whether his speeches represent political interference or whether the army leadership sought to play a role in directing Public opinion and voters to support the constitution, or through the Army Magazine, the mouthpiece of the military establishment, which publishes on a monthly basis the army’s vision of the political line in the country 22 ,

It is a method of communication consistent with what was adopted by Ahmed Gaid Salah in directing the head of the civil authority during his administration of the transitional period that followed the resignation of Bouteflika, sometimes by hinting and at other times by declaring 23 .

As for the relatively high level of the ceiling of individual and collective freedoms, which is present in the constitutional amendment, he will find himself at the test of the mechanisms of its implementation, which are mainly organic laws, especially the election laws 24, parties, associations and the media, which the President promised to make important amendments to them, it does not seem that they will change Significant to the laws that preceded them, if we take into account the methods of circumventing and fleeing forward and unfulfilled promises on the ground, which the authority has been using in the way it administers the post-Bouteflika era in general; Especially what is related to the national dialogue and the constitutional amendment, and even the method of forming the most important pillar necessary for conducting transparent and fair elections, and we are talking here about the election supervision committee, which the new constitutional amendment describes as independent, while it gives the power to appoint its president and members to the president of the republic 25 .

And based on the outcomes of the constitutional process that does not seem to witness a clear difference in its political aspect from what was the case at the end of Bouteflika’s rule, the popular movement, which is in a state of hibernation due to the Corona pandemic, does not in any way reflect its rejection of the changes taking place in the wheels of power, no It seems that he will miss his time to go to the street as soon as possible, in order to express his rejection of the exits provided by the authority to the crisis, which do not respond to his demands for a radical change that affects the depth of the system of government in the country.

List of references:

1 “Algerian Constitutional” Lefti to extend the term of the interim president, Anadolu News Agency, June 2, 2019 (entry date: October 17, 2020): الدول-العربية / الدستوري-الجزائري-يفتي-بتمديد-ولاية-الرئيس-المؤقت- / 1495560

2 The Algerian army commander calls for elections before the end of the year, Al-Jazeera Net, September 2, 2019 (entry date: October 17, 2020): الجزائر-قائد-أركان-الجيش-قايد-صالح.

3 Algerian Defense: The era of army-making for presidents has ended, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, September 10, 2019 (entry date: October 18, 2020): الدفاع-الجزائرية-عهد-صناعة-الجيش-للرؤساء-انتهى

4 After a statement by the Armed Forces Commander – President Bouteflika submits his resignation, Deutsche Welle, April 2, 2019 (entry date: October 18, 2020): بعد-بيان-لقائد-الجيش-ـ-الرئيس-بوتفليقة-يقدم-استقالته / a-48170890

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6 The Dialogue Committee … Brahimi rejects … !, Al-Shorouk Online, July 29, 2019 (accessed date: October 18, 2020): لجنة-الحوار-الإبراهيمي-يرفض /

7 Mr. Ahmed Laarraba, Chairman of the Committee of Experts in charge of drafting proposals for the revision of the constitution, APS, January 08, 2020 (entry date: October 20, 2020):

8 The bread, sugar and oil uprising in Algeria.. Violent clashes between the police and angry people, International, January 6, 2011 (access date: October 20, 2020): angry/

9 For Araba, elements of identity are expected to disappear from the upcoming constitutions of Algeria, ultra Algeria, 09 June 2020, (entry date: 20 October 2020): for Araba- is expected- the disappearance of the elements of identity from the future constitutions of Algeria / ultra-voice / news

10 Politicians: The Constitutional Amendment Project in Algeria … Radical Change or Consecration to the System ?, The Majalla, May 20, 2020, (entry date: October 20, 2020): سياسيون-مشروع-التعديل-الدستوري-بالجزائر-تغيير-جذري-أم-تكريس-للنظام؟

11 Draft Amendment to the Algerian Constitution 2020, Chapter Three (Organization and Separation of Powers), Chapter Two (Government), Article 103:

12 The election of Slimane Chenin as Speaker of the Algerian Parliament, Middle East Online, Wednesday, July 10, 2019 (accessed October 21, 2020):

/ Election-Suleiman-Shanin-Speaker-to the Algerian Parliament /

13 Al-Arindi sets up a national directorate for the referendum campaign on the constitution, Sabq Press, 09 September 2020, (entry date 21 October 2020): الأرندي-ينصب-مديرية-وطنية-لحملة-الاست /

14 What future for Avalan and Arandi ?, Khobar, May 24, 2020 (entry date October 21, 2020):

15 Amending the Constitution: The Association of Muslim Scholars with reservations on some articles, the news, October 6, 2020, (entry date October 21, 2020): تعديل-الدستور-جمعية-العلماء-المسلمين-تتحفظ-على-بعض-المواد /

16 We will establish a political family that brings together Islamists, Al-Hiwar, 4 April 2018, (accessed October 21, 2020):

17 “The November Constitution” tilts the scales in its favor before the referendum, Al-Shorouk Online, October 17, 2020, (entry date October 22, 2020): دستور-نوفمبر-يرجح-الكفة-لصالحه-قبل-ال /

18 Rejection of the license for a popular gathering that Jaballah is operating in Annaba, Sabq Press, October 16, 2020 (entry date October 22, 2020): رفض-الترخيص-لتجمع-شعبي-ينشطه-جاب-الله-ف /

19 Algeria’s Islamists wave to return to the movement if reform fails, Arabi 21, 02 June 2020, (entry date October 22, 2020): إسلاميو-الجزائر-يلوحون-للعودة-إلى-الحراك-إذا-فشل-الإصلاح

20 “Call 22” project statement in Arabic, Facebook, October 24, 2020 (accessed October 24, 2020):

21 Statement regarding the Constitutional Referendum, Facebook, October 6, 2020, (accessed October 24, 2020): حركة-المسار-من-أجل-الحرية-والسيادة -103989520987159 / photos / a.109440303775414 / 377788173607291

22 The Army Magazine responds to doubts about the existence of parallel decision-making centers in the Authority, Algeria, April 9, 2020, (accessed October 24, 2020): مجلة-الجيش-تردّ-على-شكوك-حول-وجود-مراكز-قرار-موازية-في-السلطة / الترا-صوت / أخبار

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24 to Arraba to lead the Election Law Review Committee, Al-Shorouk, October 19, 2020 (entry date October 24, 2020): لعرابة-لقيادة-لجنة-مراجعة-قانون-الانت -2 /

25 The draft amendment to the Algerian constitution 2020, Chapter 4 (Monitoring Institutions), Chapter Three (Independent National Elections Authority), Article 201: