Africa Notes: Algeria Today and Tomorrow: An Assessment - November 1986
November 28, 1986
Halfway through the second five-year term of President Chadli Benjedid, Algeria is being pulled in many directions. A relatively liberal and pragmatic regime has been shaped by a continuing sequence of changes and consolidations of power. Oil revenues, which provided an economic boom and a cushion against mistakes, are rapidly drying up, and victories in gas pricing methods of the early Benjedid years are turning out to be costly and controversial. Yet Algeria still stands as a remarkable case of political and economic stability within a number of Third World groupings.
Its economy is more balanced and its revenues more productively invested at home than is the case with many of its fellow members of OPEC. It is closer to being a NIC (New Industrialized Country) than any other African country except South Africa. Although its political institutions were established by a regime that took power illegally and was very hesitant to set up an elected structure of government, the transition from an uncontested but authoritarian regime after the death in 1978 of President Houari Boumedienne was smooth and effective, and the successor has proved to be a truly popular figure. There are Algerian problems, but there is no Algerian crisis.