Magharebia (Washington DC)

12 February 2013

Algeria: Change Hits Local Parties

Algiers — Winds of change in Algerian politics are driving speculation about the future of several parties.

A year before the presidential elections, several heavyweights have disappeared from the Algerian political stage.

The Algerian political scene bereft of its big names is akin to an "elephants' graveyard", Liberté commented.

"For twenty years now, this mammoths' tomb has swallowed up the beautiful flower of Algeria's political future, which must now be consigned to the past, of course," the February 3rd editorial said.

"From Sifi to Belkhadem, Redha Malek, Taleb El-Ibrahimi, Benbitour, Hamdani, Hamrouche, Benflis, Boukrouh, Sadi, Ait Ahmed, Ouyahia and Soltani have all played their part in keeping politics going before this was crushed by indifference," the Algerian daily opined.

A popular adage says that when the National Liberation Front (FLN) catches a cold, Algerian politics sneezes. Indeed, the changes have been coning at breakneck speed.

The January departure of FLN party chief Abdelaziz Belkhadem is just the latest in a series of changes to Algeria's political landscape.

Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) head Said Sadi also stepped down last spring to make way for Mohcine Belabbas, the former leader of the Socialist Forces Front (FFS).

Political parties including the National Democratic Rally (RND), the Movement for a Peaceful Society (MSP) and the FFS also recently experienced changes in their leadership.

El Watan suggested that the "political killing" of the leaders of the FLN and RND was possibly part of a plan to make way for surprise replacements.

"The crisis that the FLN has gone through of late and the way in which the party's secretary general, Abdelaziz Belkhadem - who was known for his loyalty to the president, to whom he owed his career - was removed could indicate the lack of a consensus at the very top with regard to the 2014 presidential elections," the Algerian daily editorialised.

The only prominent political group that has enjoyed relative stability is the Workers' Party (PT) led by Louiza Hanoune.

In an interview with Magharebia, MP Ramdane Taazibt said his party was not affected because "the bylaws and internal regulations are adhered to within the PT".

Challenges within parties were healthy as long as they were disputes over policy, and not personal, Ouargla University Politics Professor Goudi Bouhania told El Khabar.

Commenting on the conflicts within the FLN, he said that any change affecting the biggest party would have repercussions on the political stage and state institutions.

"It is the oldest party and is the pool from which the political elite are drawn. This makes it more likely that the change at the helm of the FLN is linked to the general political situation of the country, but not necessarily the institutions of state," he said.

What is happening within the country's oldest party and other parties can be likened to a "political spring" with a distinctly Algerian flavour, he added.

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