Author

Thomas Serres

Thomas Serres

Lecturer in the Department of Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz and associate researcher in the Development & Societies Research Unit, Paris-Sorbonne.


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Understanding Algeria's 2019 Revolutionary Movement

Protesters

Photo by Louiza Ammi/Abaca/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

Thomas Serres
Middle East Brief 129, July 2019

Summary

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement in February 2019 that he would run for a fifth term triggered the rise of a mass protest movement known as the Hirak. The Hirak brought together diverse and fractious political currents in peaceful demonstrations that, less than seven weeks later, led to Bouteflika’s ouster after 20 years in office. Yet protests continued, demanding deeper changes to the political system and hindering the military’s attempt to engineer a rapid transition. In this Brief, Thomas Serres links the durability of Algeria’s revolutionary movement to its ability to connect the current situation to the war of independence against the French over half a century ago. The Hirak relied heavily on shared nationalist discourses that referenced that earlier struggle, portraying the regime as a form of internal colonialism that had confiscated the country’s independence and public wealth. To understand the resiliency, strength, and future limits of Algeria’s current revolutionary movement, Serres argues that we need to understand how Algerians collectively have revived the populist legacy of the first Algerian revolution.


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