The Arab Spring was an international social movement, that started in Tunisia December 2010 and then rapidly spread to many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). “They were calling for democracy in its most essential form: the ability of citizens to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives”.1 This call for democracy was experienced in almost every regime in the MENA. The countries experienced riots in the streets, large demonstrations against the government, and a general wish for reform change in the authoritarian regimes. The Arab Spring had a lot of resemblance with the European waves of revolutions in 1848, where almost all European countries experienced some kind of uprisings, which in some cases lead to democracy. Just like the European revolutions, the MENA social protests had many different outcomes. In Egypt and Tunisia, the people overthrew the aging presidents and in Libya and Syria the movements lead a civil war with international intervention. However, in most other countries in the region, the Arab Spring movement didn’t achieve regime changes, like the people wished for, and the authoritarian system stayed in power.
Therefore, I would like to analyze, How the Algerian government react to the Arab Spring, and why didn’t the Algerian people displace the authoritarian regime?
In order to find the question for this answer, I will analyze the strategies applied by the Algerian government by using Max Weber’s theories about what constitutes a legitimate rule and David Easton’s structural functionalist theory about democratic and authoritarian rule.2 Furthermore, I will analyze why the Algerian people didn’t revolt by using social movement theory and resource mobilization theory. Based on the analysis of the sources, the central claim is therefore going to be: The Algerian government stayed in power because it was a broad coalition that used material redistribution, in order to gain loyalty from both the security forces and the people, so the Algerian people generally believed they would be better off without joining the protest movement, also considering their recent history of independence and civil war.
1 Michele Penner Angrist, Politics and society in the contemporary middle east (Boulder: Lynne Rienner publishers, Inc, 2013), 33.
2 Maria Josua, “Legitimation towards whom? Managing the legitimacy crisis in Algeria during the Arab Uprisings”, Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft. 11, no.2 (February 2017): 303.