Successful Economic and Political Transition by balancing Democracy and Development

Faced with this situation, the discredit that afflicts the partisan system and specific segments of civil society and presenting for the majority of them the specificity of being linked to annuity interests is not specific to Algeria. The global revolution of communication systems produces new behaviours everywhere, implying a political and economic recomposition favouring reforms. 

It is, therefore, a question of introducing more rigour into the procedure relating to the creation of parties without pouring into the excess that inevitably leads to any bureaucratic approach to the political thing. It is probably worthwhile, if not necessary, to look at the representativeness of the parties before deciding on their future. In any event, it seems to us to be fairer, and more politically just, to reason in terms of the electoral market and, therefore, to leave the rules of the political game and the number of actors involved in it to settle competitively. The role of the public authorities will then be to put in place the necessary safeguards and ensure strict compliance with the laws and rules that govern the functioning of this market.  As for the civil society, increasingly atomised, different ideological currents cross it into four civil societies, one of Islamic tendency, one of so-called democratic tendency, one of so-called nationalist tendency and the most critical unstressed informal civil society. 

The current confusion in the national association movement makes it difficult to develop a strategy to take charge of it and mobilise it. While the involvement of civil society in the affairs of the city, whose vocation is not to do politics, but to stick with the social reality of the concerns of citizens, is an eminently civilisational act, which integrates the changes of a changing society. The action of civil society is only likely to succeed if the association movement is sanitised and if the associations that make up it is not at the service of unspeakable and sometimes dubious personal ambitions. This finding results from a long historical process in which, for Algeria, the proactive management since independence, internal power issues, the economic, social and cultural crisis, and finally, the increasing external constraints have revealed a bitter reality. The dramatic absence of a genuine national strategy of adaptation in the face of new global changes marked by the digital and energy transition with new recompositions of political, military and international Power shaped by new technologies (artificial intelligence, cyber-attacks). The combination of endogenous and exogenous factors and the massive intervention – sometimes direct and at times insidious – of internal and external actors has resulted in a transition that has been dragging on for decades. The demands for a state based on righteousness and the rule of law, if these are a vital tool for national cohesion and the nation’s destiny, must not obscure the needs for the autonomy of local authorities. These must be restructured per their characteristics and not according to electoral or clientelistic necessities. The cohesion of these spaces and their involvement in managing their respective interests and territorialities would then set in motion a dynamic of positive completions. It would make the control of groups easier for national political centrality. If not of its legitimacy, the end of the providence state would above all mean that the benevolent Power – or charitable ships inaugurated as an implicit political contract by the proponents of socialism of yesteryear to justify the change of part of the rente for political dependence and submission. And the result which erases any spirit of active citizenship – must give way to a just power. It is the norm of law that takes its place to legitimise the actual status of national citizenship. The transition from the state of “support” to the rule of law is, from my point of view, a prominent political gamble because it simply implies a new social and political contract between the nation and the state. Also, Algeria can only return to itself if false privileges are banned and the criteria of competence, loyalty and innovation are reintroduced as gateways to success and social promotion.

Moreover, the re-foundation of the state cannot be limited to a technical reorganisation of authority and powers but involves reorganisations in the organisation of Power to raise the strategic problem of the future role of the state in economic and social development mainly through real decentralisation. It assumes that all the components of society and the actors of economic, social and cultural life are involved, without exclusive, in the decision-making process. It engages the configuration of the image of Algeria of tomorrow, which will gradually move away from the spectre of exclusion and all negative attitudes that undermine social cohesion. It is a way for the state to show its will for justice and rehabilitate its credibility by giving positive meaning to its role as a regulator and arbiter of social demand. Therefore, there would be no room for waste, which excludes piloting on sight favouring actions that are more reliable by long-term prospects on the one hand, and on the other, the coherent trade-offs involved in the rigour of efficient management and the fight against corruption.

Future candidates and the new government facing a problematic socio-economic situation

According to the international situation, let us hope not to repeat the past experiences where MPs have been content with an annuity without concrete proposals and a government without mink that has merely managed the rente of the fossil fuels. This latter depended on the international hydrocarbon market situation, which allowed spend without counting, the price of which is totally beyond its control. 

With the world being in 2021 to 2030 on the cusp of a fourth economic revolution where good governance and the value of knowledge are prioritised, any nation that does not necessarily advance would cease to exist in a static situation. This being a national and non-local election, we look forward to concrete proposals. These seminars and workshops should be avoided as a waste of time and money, as the socio-economic balance sheet is known and in need of concrete action. It is that the future government and the Assembly that resulted from the elections of 12 June 2021, after a very mixed move according to the President of the Republic himself, of the current government, will be confronted with the harsh economic and social reality not to mention the geostrategic issues at the regional level. With the decline in foreign exchange reserves to between $42/43 billion at the end of 2020, from $194 billion at the end of 2013, an outflow of foreign currency provided by the Law of Complementary Finance goods and services was often forgotten. A minimum of $35/37 billion, a GDP that rises from 160 billion dollars in 2020 to 153 and an unemployment rate of around 15% according to the IMF for 2021, the often forgotten demographic pressure, between 2021-2025, will make it necessary to create more than 350,000-400,000 jobs per year. For the past 5 to 7 years, with an unemployment rate of 8 to 9%, we had -6% growth in 2020, we have to face up a possible IMF forecast of 2.9% in 2021. 

The creation of jobs for decades comes mainly from the indirect effects irrigating the entire economic and social body, from the hydrocarbons rente, foreign exchange receipts dependent on external factors, the price of oil and gas on the world market). Newly elected officials should be aware that with an average price of $60/65, and a gas price of $3/5 per MBTU (33% of SONATRACH’s revenues) subject to the resumption of growth in the world economy and the non-decline in production in physical volume, more than 20% between 2010/2020, would make the projected export revenues in 2021 to between $24/27 billion. 

The return to inflation could be between 90 to 100% between 2000/2020 and about 5% in 2021, a process amplified by last year’s import restrictions, without targeting which paralysed the majority of the production apparatus, operating at less than 50% of their capacity. With many bankruptcies, the rate of integration of public and private enterprises not exceeding 15%; thus, the deterioration of purchasing power will result in the middle classes pillar of any development process regressing. Overcoming the current political and economic crisis is a challenge within Algeria’s reach to avoid social tensions and become a key player in the stability of the Mediterranean and African region. Let us hope with the impact of the coronavirus epidemic that has paralysed the entire world economy, that dialogue, the tool par excellence of good governance, trumps passions, the strategic objective of prioritising Algeria’s best interests to ensure its security and development. 

Pr Abderrahmane Mebtoul,