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The elections for president of Algeria were held on December 12.

They were summoned by the new dictator, General Ahmed Gaid Salah, to demobilize the revolution and give the Bonapartist regime a democratic outlook.

By Hassan al-Barazili

 

General Gaid Salah took office in April after ousting former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and arresting regime leaders such as Said Bouteflika and General Mohamed Mediene (known as “Toufik”). In addition, general Gaid Salah removed intelligence chief Athmane Tartag and unified the security apparatus under his command.

However, his aim of using the elections to end the Hirak may not work.

The Hirak (a word that means mobilization in Arabic, is the way protesters call the revolution that began on February 16) called to boycott the regime’s controlled elections. The Hirak calls for the removal of General Gaid Salah and other regime leaders as a precondition for free elections. The result is that only 41% of constituency voted, the lowest turnout in many years.

In addition, the elected candidate, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, is a figure fully associated with General Gaid Salah. He had 58% of the vote which implies that his support among the total voters is only 25%.

On election day there were protests in various cities across the country, and the next day there were new major demonstrations, the largest in the capital, Algiers.

In addition to popular rejection, the new president will face a national and international economic recession. Committed to corporate interests, the new president will impose more sacrifices on the working people.

 

Algeria Amidst World Revolution

Algeria became one of the centers of the world revolution and, together with Sudan, launched a second wave of revolutions in the Arab countries.

The Algerian revolution began on February 16 following the announcement that former President Bouteflika would run for a new term.

The popular mobilization is extraordinary. Major weekly demonstrations in major cities demand the fall of the regime. Strikes also took place and now a successful boycott of the elections.

New steps are necessary to move forward.

 

Turn Street Power into National Organization

The most important step is to establish the local and national organization of the Hirak in coordinated workers’ and people’s councils across the country.

Moreover, it is very important to bring soldiers and low-ranking officers to the side of the revolution. The army remains the mainstay of the regime. The Armed Forces summit has a privileged position in this regime and is the main force against any democratic or social change. But soldiers and low-ranking officers do not have these privileges. Bringing them to the workers’ and popular councils is a way to weaken the regime and overthrow it[1].

The inauguration of these councils should aim to constitute an alternative and democratic power of the workers to fight for the end of the regime and for a new power of the workers and the poor people[2].

 

Learning from the Lessons of the 1962 Revolution

The 1954-1962 revolution constituted a huge victory for the Algerian people against French colonialism and was a source of inspiration to all who fight for social rights and democratic freedoms around the world.

However, this victory was limited by the performance of the National Liberation Front (FLN) in power.

The FLN led the revolution and took power after the end of French colonialism. It had a rigid hierarchical structure, typical of guerrilla or military organizations.

Once in power, the FLN reproduced in the nation its authoritarian internal working model by implementing the one-party regime. The working class has been kept apart from power.

The FLN also decided to impose a capitalist economic model which limited the population’s ability to benefit from the nationalization of oil and various companies and properties that were abandoned by the French pied-noir bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie after independence. At first, there were significant advances in public education and healthcare and land reform. But in a second moment, French and American capitals came to have control of much of the country’s wealth, in association with regime leaders and allies.

Finally, the FLN regime chose to integrate Algeria into the group of nonaligned countries, most of them capitalists like India, Egypt and Indonesia. In this way the FLN abandoned the perspective of expanding the revolution by supporting revolutionary movements in other countries, which was hardly ever done.

 

A New Revolution and a Revolutionary Working-Class Party

For the Hirak to win a victory in Algeria, a new revolution and a revolutionary party[3] different from the FLN is needed.

Only a new revolution can win jobs, decent wages, quality public healthcare and education, and full democratic freedoms.

General Gaid Salah and new President Abdelmadjid Tebboune say there are no resources to meet popular demands. But where do the resources from oil exploration and other economic activities go? Once again it is necessary to nationalize oil and all major national and foreign corporations to pool the economic resources to improve the living conditions of the working population.

The old regime, now led by General Gaid Salah, defends the interests of these corporations and has already demonstrated that it will not come out of power peacefully.

In addition to workers’, people’s and soldiers’ councils, it is necessary to build a revolutionary party to fight for these ideas.

The FLN played a very important role in the expulsion of French colonialism. But we need a different party model: a revolutionary party that has a democratic internal regime[4], which defends the nationalization of oil and the entire economy under workers’ control, and which struggles to remove the old regime and the bourgeoisie from power and to replace them with the a democratic power of the workers’, people’s and soldiers’ councils.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Several revolutions have secured the support of soldiers and low-ranking officers. One of the classic examples are the Soviets and the Revolutionary Military Committee in the Russian Revolution of 1917. See a description in Trotsky, Leon: History of the Russian Revolution volume 3, chapter 4 – The Revolutionary Military Committee https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/ch41.htm

[2] On the formation of an alternative workers’ power see Trotsky, León; History of the Russian Revolution, Volume 1, Chapter 11 – Dual Power https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/ch11.htm

[3] On the revolutionary party see Moreno, Nahuel, Questions on the Revolutionary Party Organization, https://litci.org/en/questions-on-revolutionary-party-organization-full-article/

[4] An example is the Bolshevik party. See the democratic internal debates at this party in Trotsky, Leon, History of the Russian Revolution, Volume 1, Chapter 15 – The Bolsheviks and Lenin https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/1930/hrr/ch15.htm