Algeria: When Elections Hurt Democracy

Issue Date April 2020
Volume 31
Issue 2
Page Numbers 152-165
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

The massive mobilization known as the Hirak (movement) which gathered millions of protesters in weekly demonstrations against the Algerian regime throughout 2019, underscores the strengths and weaknesses of both leaderless protests and electoral authoritarianism. Leaderless grassroots movements are effective in disrupting the pseudodemocratic tools that authoritarian elites use to remain in power, but they are less efficient at proposing institutional alternatives. The deeply flawed Algerian elections of December 2019 illustrated how a military-backed regime could ensure continuity in the ruling elite, at a cost to its legitimacy. The Hirak highlights the democratic evolution of societies in the Arab Muslim world and the slow but not yet decisive weakening of electoral authoritarianism.