Algerian opposition learns from Tunisian democratic transition

Algerian opposition learns from Tunisian democratic transition
The opposition in Algeria hopes to emulate the peaceful democratic transition in Tunisia and move their country towards democracy.
3 min read
03 January, 2015
Demands for democracy in Algeria have previously been suppressed by force [Anadolu]
The democratic transition in Tunisia has embarrassed Algerian authorities, as the Algerian opposition has used events in Tunisia to harshly criticise Algeria's governing practices, and specifically what they consider to be the sidestepping of democracy.

Parliamentary and presidential elections in Tunisia were watched closely in Algeria. Unsurprisingly, Algeria's media contingent was the largest body of foreign media covering the historic polls. The two countries share historic links due to their geographic proximity, but there are also shared security concerns after armed groups appeared in the Chaambi border region.

Hopes raised

The Algerian opposition clearly hopes to replicate Tunisia's democratic experience at home.

"The Tunisian experience indicates that peaceful change can be successful, and that democratic transition is possible when democratic institutions are put in place without internal or external attempts to circumvent democracy," said Abdel Aziz Rahabi, a member of the Committee for Change.

"The role of civil society in the success of the democratic experience in Tunisia is why we have called for the independence of civil society in Algeria, to allow it to freely operate without being politically utilised by the authorities."
The peaceful Tunisian revolution demonstrated an agreement based on national interests... is the only way to avoid crises.
- Abderrazak Makri

Abderrazak Makri is a former member of parliament and the head of the Society for Peace Movement. He said he considered the successful democratic transition in Tunisia to be an example for all political systems, political parties and civil society groups across the Arab world - and especially in Algeria.

"The peaceful Tunisian revolution has demonstrated that a true agreement based on national interests away from the arrogance of a single power is the only way to avoid crises and overcome tensions," he told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

Makri also praised the "great wisdom demonstrated by the Ennahdha movement and its ability to let go of power to avoid a political breakdown, in addition to distancing itself from pointless conflicts."

Ennahdha has shown the "maturity and competence" of the Islamist trend within Tunisian politics, "especially when dialogue is given a chance and foundations for honest competition are put in place".

Makri used the Tunisian elections as an opportunity to call for the Algerian political system to establish a national independent electoral commission, the key to the success of Tunisia's elections, according to several analysts.

The Tunisian elections were organised and monitored by an independent electoral commission - and civil society groups were granted the right to observe the election process. This is not the case in Algeria.

The Algerian Interior Ministry is responsible for organising elections, including drawing up the electoral register and counting votes - and because there is no independent monitoring of elections, accusations of forgery have marred every election since independence.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.