In Algeria, the Hirak movement is not slowing down. For the government, it is a stroke that is becoming too costly to control. President Tebboune again called for dialogue.
In Algeria, the socio-political movement of Hirak continues to attract supporters and conquer media space. Lately, firefighters, municipal officials and other state employees have joined the protests. This new development would have shaken the government's certainties of being able to maintain the status quo.
It was therefore last Thursday, one day after the arrest of Karim Tabbou, that the courts released him on probation. Despite the serious accusations to which it is subject, including the attack on the security of the State, the central power begins to make concessions when it comes to imprisoning opponents. In this case, Tabbou had obtained a reprieve in March for his criticism of the army. His latest arrest came two days after he announced the election boycott.
However, the opposition denounces many irregularities concerning these legislative elections in June. The National Independent Election Authority (ANIE) made an announcement that sparked further controversy. Indeed, according to ANIE, among the 39 political parties registered for the elections, 20 do not meet the legal conditions. This does not seem to bother the independent lists, which represent a majority of the 1734 registered voters lists. However, if ANIE bans the participation of half of the Algerian political class, and almost all of the parties that participated in the Hirak, it could cause the protests to escalate. The Hirak has been, until then, an example of civility, by choice.
The fire is smoldering
Why is the Hirak peaceful? Only Algerians know the answer, but the assumptions exist. Besides the predominant civil tendency, the Algerian people have known dark hours in the past. It is this context that pushed Algeria to accept control of the army for 20 years. The ten-year civil war between the Algerian army (ANP) and the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) left 154 dead. Consequence: fear of the return of Islamist parties invades Algerian political culture.
It is therefore on this fear that the Algerian High Security Council (HCS) has played to overhang the three powers of the State since 2002. Only here, since the start of Hirak in 2019, the army no longer uses this power only to secure the country. Algerians who have political ambition are therefore stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Independence groups, such as the Movement for the Self-Determination of Kabylia (MAK), were the most affected. The Department of National Defense (DND) accused them of terrorism at the end of April. It is therefore only a matter of time before the MAK becomes the army's new scapegoat.
The government is more antagonistic to the Movement for the Society of Peace (MSP). Abderrazak Makri's party is the most popular Islamist political movement in Algeria today. And even if he participates in the Hirak, he openly opposes the MAK. This dynamic creates a rivalry between government and military alliances, as well as debate within the Hirak.
The elections ad portas
Indeed, while the "classic" political parties compete for the representation of Hirak, the more influential actors are on the sidelines of the demonstrations. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is said to be at open war with the MSP and the army is said to be seeking to suppress the MAK. However, the adversity facing the government is not political, but social. A fact that the Algerian power seems to omit.
Nonetheless, legislative elections will take place on June 12, with or without radical opposition. Until then, the government and the army seek to secure as much support as possible with the Kabyles and the Islamists. So if ANIE prevents one of these two parties from participating in the elections, it will have to prevent the other as well. However, without one or the other, Tebboune and the HCS will be de facto alone against all, and probably opposed by force of circumstances. The interdependence of the military and the government has been exactly the same since 2002, but it could not continue if the parliament is independent.
Finally, no ballot would be accepted as such in Algeria, especially since the Hirak captured the attention of the international community. It would be fair to assume that regardless of the boom in the legislative elections in June, the popular protest will not end. As a reminder, the current parliamentary majority is not representative of Hirak. More than 40% of parliamentary seats are currently occupied by the FLN and the RND, respectively center-left and center-right. It would therefore be the entry into the running of the radical parties participating in the Hirak that would appease the streets, and not the continuity of the current monopoly. After all, the protesters are calling for change, and their own representatives to operate it from within.