Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 March 2019

Algeria uprising: 'We stay here until the whole system goes'

Protesters in Algeria, photo by Bachounda/CC

Protesters in Algeria, photo by Bachounda/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Sue Powell and Dave Carr

Every Friday, since 22 February, hundreds of thousands of Algerians have been protesting against their infirm president - the figurehead of a decades'-long ruling clique - who is standing for a fifth term of office.

These outpourings of anger against 82 year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika are the biggest since the 2011 mass uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.

One protester in the capital Algiers, a 37 year-old teacher, said: "We stay here until the whole system goes".

A five-day general strike, involving transport workers, dockers, car workers, shop workers, teachers and workers in many other sectors, began on 10 March. Another three-day general strike to remove Bouteflika began on 26 March.

In order to prevent revolution 'from below', the regime has introduced reforms 'from above'. It announced that Bouteflika will not now seek a fifth term and installed a new prime minister, Badawi, with talk of an 'inclusive government'.

But the planned 18 April presidential election has been postponed indefinitely, leaving Bouteflika in office. Needless to say, these 'reforms' have failed to halt the protests.

"They are just trying to delay things until they have a candidate who suits them. We want him gone. We want them all gone", said one protester.

Bouteflika had a stroke in 2013 and has seldom been seen in public since. Algerians call him their 'invisible president'. His last public speech was seven years ago.

But he remains in office as a puppet figure fronting a corrupt and autocratic elite made up of the top military, party cronies and wealthy businessmen and widely known as 'le pouvoir' ('the power').


Most opposition parties do not want the movement to overthrow the system. Instead they want a reshuffle of the regime which is more favourable to them in terms of positions and privileges.

The opposition's call for Friday demonstrations steadily escalated, but on the evening of 3 March the protests exploded onto the streets after a spokesperson had announced the president's intention to stand again and vacate the presidency after one year.

Opposition party leaders are reportedly engaged in talks with the regime for concessions and have attempted to hold back the movement by warning of 'chaos' and 'bloodshed' if the protesters try to overthrow the ruling class.

Youth to fore

Over half of the population is under 30. Most young people have known only one ruler and did not experience the "dark years" of civil war, in which around 200,000 Algerians lost their lives.

The universities have emptied as countless thousands of students have thronged the streets.

The education ministry, in order to cut across the developing student movement, brought forward the spring holiday originally scheduled for 21 March and extended it until 4 April.

Bouteflika was initially seen as the 'mediator' who ended the horrors of civil war, but even among the older generations there is no longer any loyalty and patience.

Unemployment officially stands at 10% and youth unemployment is 29%. In 2015 it was estimated that 35% of the population somehow survive on a poverty wage.

Most households have seen their incomes decline substantially during the last five years.

This fall in living standards corresponds to the sharp fall in wholesale oil and gas prices, the mainstay of the economy.

Bouteflika had previously used burgeoning oil and gas export revenues to subsidise consumer commodity prices and invest in social programmes. But these subsidies and social spending have gone into reverse.

However, sections of the elite have become filthy rich. Many Algerians have long been saying: 'We are a rich country, we have oil and industry - why are we not rich?'

Apart from the Friday protests, all election candidates have threatened to withdraw and now the ranks of the protesters have been swelled by members of the official trade unions.

Traditionally loyal to the FLN (the National Liberation Front - Bouteflika's party - that led the 1954-62 struggle against French colonialism) union leaders belatedly withdrew their support for Bouteflika and backed the 10 March general strike.

The strike was widely supported, including by workers in the crucial oil and gas industry (which accounts for 30% of the country's total economic output).

Wanting to distance themselves from Bouteflika's rule, even some large private companies publicly supported the strike.

And in a desperate attempt to stop its haemorrhaging support the FLN's interim leader Moab Bouchareb announced support for the "popular movement", while also backing Bouteflika's non-existent political reforms.

In a new twist a FLN spokesperson has now rejected Bouteflika's call for a 'national conference' to prepare for new elections. Clearly the ruling class is split on how to proceed.

Women have already played a prominent role in the protests and marked International Women's Day (8 March) by leading mass demonstrations.

Existential threat

The regime, while so far limiting its use of force against the protests, is likely at some stage, if existentially threatened, to use the full weight of the state against protesters.

However, as we have seen during periods of struggle in the 'Arab Spring' and in the 1979 Iranian revolution, the state forces can crack under enormous pressure.

In order to achieve this movement's aims and prevent counter-revolution at a later stage, a working-class mass movement must forge strong, independent organisations which not only challenge the rule of the regime but also the capitalist system which underpins it.

Strikes and protests on different issues, including opposition to the official trade union and the right to elect new workers' representatives, are developing.

Recently 13 independent trade unions have declared their opposition to Bad-awi's attempt to form a government.

This opposition needs to be broadened into a movement to replace the present regime with a government led by representatives of workers and the poor. One that breaks with capitalism and begins the socialist reorganisation of society.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 27 March 2019:

What we think

Corbyn and labour movement must mobilise to bring down Tories and force election

Socialist Party news and analysis

Haringey 'Corbyn council' finance chief resigns

Oil firms spend $1bn fighting climate laws: 'Green New Deal' needs socialist policies

Universal Credit forces women into 'survival sex': scrap it now!

NHS staff shortage now permanent: reverse health cuts!

International socialist news and analysis

Algeria uprising: 'We stay here until the whole system goes'

Socialist history

Lessons of the heroic 1984-85 Miners' strike

Visteon: when factory occupations stayed the hands of the bosses

Workplace news and analysis

Support the Honda workers: nationalise to save jobs

Valentine school strike against budget cuts and redundancies

Newark machine bearings factory workers return to work

Striking teachers march against Enfield schools academisation plans

Bradford College strike remains solid over pay and funding

West London civil service workers strike against office closure

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Climate strike reports

United working-class struggle needed to fight for trans and women's rights

Leeds residents' anger against private 18-story monster block in 'Little London'

Enthusiastic Southern region socialists plan for the struggles ahead

Worcester library cuts: staff not even consulted


Reader's comment: mental health under capitalism

The Socialist inbox


Home   |   The Socialist 27 March 2019   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: 10 years since the end of the war in Sri Lanka

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Sudan and Algeria - Victory to the revolutions!

triangleSudan: No to rule of the generals!

triangleAlgeria: Bouteflika is finished but the Algerian revolution is not!

triangleLewisham Socialist Students & Socialist Party: Uprising in Algeria


triangleOppose BT site closures - national strike ballot needed

triangleIran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

triangleIsrael: Nurses strike and win

triangleHugely significant council workers' strike continues

General strike:

triangle100 years since the foundation of the Communist Party of Great Britain

triangleBirmingham North Socialist Party: The General Strike and workers' power

triangleIndia: Bloody pogrom fuelled by Modi's sectarianism


triangleCuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo

triangleReform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?





Revolutionary mood in Lebanon following horrific explosion



Cuba: Covid-19 and the 60-year-old embargo


Nuclear weapons

Anniversary of nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki



Iran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes



Israel: Nurses strike and win


Hong Kong

Hong Kong: The fight for democratic rights


South Africa

South Africa: Building jobs and living wage campaign



France: 20,000 rally against Paris's killer gendarmes



Black and white youth rise up against racism - US protester speaks to the Socialist



USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests



Outrage spreads globally following US police murder of George Floyd


Hong Kong

Chinese state's imposition of draconian law reignites Hong Kong protests



Economic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon



Trump, coronavirus, capitalism, and the presidential race



India: Fighting the curse of capitalism and coronavirus

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020