This topical new book seeks to understand the relationship between elite dynamics and strategies and the lack of profound political change in Algeria after 1995, when the country’s military rulers returned to electoral processes.
Using evidence from extensive fieldwork, Isabelle Werenfels exposes successful survival strategies of an opaque authoritarian elite in a changing domestic and international environment. The main focus is on:
- the changing balance of power between different elite segments
- the modes of generation change and the different emerging young elite types
- constraints, obligations and opportunities arising from elite embeddings in clienteles networks and in specific social and economic structures.
Building rare evidence from fieldwork into a multidisciplinary analytical framework, this book presents a significant input to the more general literature on transition processes and is particularly relevant as the West pushes for democratic reforms in the Middle East and North Africa.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Elites and the Question of Transition in Algeria: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges 2. The Shaping of the Algerian Political System and Its Elites 3. The Politically Relevant Elite 1995-2004: Structures, Actors, Dynamics 4. The Emergence of a New Elite Generation: Recruitment Mechanisms and Elite Types 5. Factors Structuring Elite Corridors of Action 6. Prospects for Change
Isabelle Werenfels is a research associate at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), and has lectured at Freie Universität, Berlin. Her recent publications in English and German deal with the question of democratization and with Islamist movements in the Maghreb region.
'This is a superbly crafted study of its fragmented elite; it is as rigorous as the fluid subject matter allows... This book is a must read for students of comparative politics and political economy as well as Algeria specialists. It offers a thick, rich description of the contradictory values and practices that tend to transform rhetorical reformers into conservative rent-seekers.' - Clement M. Henry, Middle East Journal, Vol. 62, No. 1, Winter 2008