Political Configuration: The Army-Party-State Triangle
All national power and decision-making authority rest in the
hands of a select elite and a select group of institutions. This
elite structure has been characterized by its triangular configuration
of army, party, and state. This configuration persists despite
its fluidity--vacillating between peaceful coexistence and vehement
competition for dominance. Events of the early 1990s and the subsequent
realignment of this political configuration in favor of the military
pose substantial challenges for Algeria's future development and
stability because the administrative elite and top party functionaries
have been relegated to a subordinate position.
In the years immediately following independence, no one faction
of the political elite could control the entire political system.
National preoccupation with state stability and political consolidation
ensured a relatively stable balance among the competing elite
factions. Under Boumediene, the party was reduced to a minor role
while a civil-military autocracy in the form of the Council of
the Revolution emerged as the predominant political force--consistent
with Boumediene's vision of the development of a stable and secure,
heavily centralized government. The party and other national institutions
were allowed to disintegrate to preclude the emergence of any
significant opposition to his highly concentrated government.
Renewed political institutionalization and mass politicization
in the late 1970s countered this diminution of the party's role.
The 1976 National Charter and constitution acknowledged the party's
historical role while enhancing its position as the single legal
party affiliation under which candidates could run in the newly
created local, regional, and national assemblies. The elimination
of the Council of the Revolution and the subsequent absorption
of its remaining members into the Party Congress of the FLN after
Boumediene's death further enhanced the party's national status.
Benjedid's regime, despite a reduction of formal executive powers
immediately preceding his assumption of office, was marked by
"power consolidation" that strengthened his personal control at
the expense of state, military, and especially party elites. The
deemphasis on personal politics (at least at the highest levels
of government) and the increased importance of institutional life,
however, eventually opened the way for the army's return as the
dominant political force by greatly undermining the other sides
of the political triangle.
Data as of December 1993