Francesco Cavatorta
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Introduction
Algeria’s failed process of democratisation
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In October 1988, Algeria experienced a seemingly sudden explosion of street violence triggered by economic and social discontent. These riots provided the opportunity for President Chadli Benjedid and for the soft-liners within the regime to introduce significant political reforms resulting in an attempt to turn the country into a fully-fledged democratic state which would embrace economic liberalism. However, the process of democratisation failed to consolidate and the democratic experiment came to an end in January 1992 when the Army, traditionally the real wielder of power behind the scenes, staged a ‘constitutional’ coup d'état to prevent the FIS from taking control of the government following their victory in the first round of the parliamentary elections held in December 1991. This book provides an in-depth examination of the Algerian transition, its ultimate failure, and the post-1992 authoritarian turn in the context of the pressures coming from the external environment. It argues that Algeria is instrumental in highlighting some of the shortcomings of the literature on transitions to democracy and links concepts from international relations to the analytical tools of transitology.

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