Structure of the National Government
Since independence in 1962, Algeria has had three constitutions.
The first of these was approved by a constitutional referendum
in August 1963, only after prior approval and modifications by
the FLN. Intended as a means of legitimizing Ben Bella's new regime,
the constitution also established Algeria as a republic committed
to socialism and to the preservation of Algeria's Arab and Islamic
culture. The constitution lasted only two years, however, and
was suspended upon Colonel Boumediene's military coup in June
1965. For the next ten years, Algeria was ruled without a constitution,
although representative local and provincial institutions were
created in the late 1960s in Boumediene's attempt to decentralize
political authority. In 1976 the National Charter and a new constitution
were drafted, debated, and eventually passed by national referenda.
Together, these documents formed the national constitution and
ushered in the Second Algerian Republic. The new constitution
reasserted the commitment to socialism and the revolutionary tradition
of the nation, and established new government institutions, including
the APN. The 1986 revisions continued the conservative nature
of the previous constitutions but increased the role of the private
sector and diminished the socialist commitment.
The revised constitution of February 1989 altered the configuration
of the state and allowed political parties to compete, opening
the way for liberal democracy. The new constitution removed the
commitment to socialism embodied in both the National Charter
and the constitution of 1976 and its 1986 revision. The references
to the unique and historic character of the FLN and the military's
role as "guardian of the revolution" were eliminated. The provisions
for a unicameral legislature remained.
In what was considered a sweeping mandate of support for the
liberalization efforts of Benjedid, a referendum on the 1989 constitution
passed February 23, 1989, with a 75 percent approval and a 78
percent participation rate. The changes embodied in the constitution
were not universally accepted, however. Within a month after the
ratification of the new constitution, a number of prominent senior
military officers resigned from the FLN Central Committee to protest
the revisions. The most divisive issues included the separation
of the religious institution and the state; the abandonment of
the commitment to socialism; and the liberalization of political
life, allowing independent political parties.
The 1989 constitution established a "state of law," accentuating
the role of the executive and, specifically, the president, at
the expense of the FLN. The president, having the power to appoint
and dismiss the prime minister at will, and maintaining singular
authority over military affairs, emerged as the dominant force.
The FLN became but one of many political parties. The responsibilities
of the army were limited to defense and external security. Moreover,
the army was obliged to become less visible because of its role
in suppressing the October 1988 revolts.
Data as of December 1993