Boumediene and the Socialist Experiment

Algeria Table of Contents

Council of the Revolution, 1965-75

After the coup, all political power was transferred to Boumediene and his military-dominated Council of the Revolution. The constitution and National Assembly were suspended. Boumediene was named president and prime minister, and his associates were named to the twenty other cabinet positions. No political institution other than the FLN existed for the next ten years. The objectives of the regime were to reestablish the principles of the revolution, to remedy the abuses of personal power associated with Ben Bella, to end internal divisions, and to create an "authentic" socialist society based on a sound economy. Boumediene's support came from the military and technocratic elite who believed in his gradual reformist program. Support for the new authoritarian system was not universal, and several coups were attempted in the first few years of Boumediene's regime. By the early 1970s, however, Boumediene had consolidated his regime and could focus on the pressing economic problems.

The Boumediene years were characterized by ardent socialism and state-controlled heavy industrialization, funded largely by energy exports. Dependence on France during the colonial period and the subsequent loss of capital, skill, and technology meant that Algeria's very survival in the postindependence period appeared to depend on rapid and extensive industrialization. Boumediene's industrialization program was highly centralized and involved the nationalization of almost all industrial and agricultural enterprises. By the early 1970s, almost 90 percent of the industrial sector and more than 70 percent of the industrial work force were under state control. The agricultural sector was relatively neglected at the time.

In the political realm, authority remained as concentrated as it did in the economic sphere. Aside from local and regional assemblies, administrative bodies that were essentially subordinate to the directives of the FLN, all political participation had been suspended following the coup. Boumediene had sacrificed free political exchange for regime stability and state consolidation. By 1975 the factional infighting had ceased and the internal situation had stabilized. In June 1975, the regime announced plans to resurrect public political institutions and draft a national constitution. The country was about to return to a constitutional system, Algeria's second national republic.

More about the Government and Politics of Algeria.

Custom Search

Source: U.S. Library of Congress