Francesco Cavatorta
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The external–internal linkages of the transition
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The first element that needs to be analysed is the role played by the economic crisis of 1985–1986 in ‘forcing’ the ruling elites in Algeria to open up the system. Government revenues fell due to the oil counter-shock, resulting in widespread impoverishment among the general population, which in turn led to the October 1988 riots. The question that should be asked is whether the externally driven downturn in the economy had a causal link to the decision to liberalise. The FIS contends that it was the lack of political legitimacy rather than the economic crisis that led the ruling elites to try a new strategy of re-legitimisation. This chapter discusses external shocks and direct active policies and their impact on Algeria's transition to democracy, focusing on the war in Afghanistan and its consequences and repercussions on Islamism in the country, the 1990–1991 Gulf War, the end of the Cold War, the West's promotion of democracy, promotion of political Islam, and the role of financial institutions and multinationals.

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