“Embedded” opposition is useless? So is the external one


This video of the RCD deputy Mr. Noureddine Ait-Hamouda, who is also the vice-president of the APN, is being shared and commented all over the net.
The contribution of Amirouche Ait-Hamouda‘s son is successful probably because, in his speech, he shared the Algerian public opinion on many important matters. Its success comes also from the fact Ait-Hamouda is famous for his “kharjates”. I can mention here his speeches about Emir Abdelkader, Algiers new mosque,  or the fake Moudjahidine (videos on these topics and others are available on YouTube or DailyMotion).

This deputy’s action raises the question of the opposition to the Algerian system while being part of it, or what I would call “embedded” opposition.
There are many political parties represented in the Algerian parliament. The most active among the opponents being the PT, the RCD, El-Islah and En-nahdha. But what is this embedded opposition there for? And is it more efficient than say the FFS?

El-Islah and En-nahdha’s opposition is anecdotal to me for they have very specific topics over which they complain, in vain. The other two parties, the PT and the RCD through their famous members Louiza Hanoune and Ait-Hamouda, make much more noise. But I am afraid their opposition is as useless as the former ones. But anyway, let’s consider these two cases.

Ait-Hamouda freely and vehemently criticises almost everything related to the system, and his rants even target the very APN where he works. Many Algerians like him for this, and because he uses a popular language (most of the Algerian “élite” is poorly skilled in classical Arabic and can’t but use the Algerian dialect when French is not allowed).
But the man is accused of serving the system by giving it a kind of legitimacy. A secularist RCD member “allowed” to speak in the system’s APN is indeed an evidence of the system’s democracy and free speech culture. Furthermore, Ait-Hamouda’s enemies (FFS members and others) keep talking of his alleged links with the DRS (they even say the RCD’s a DRS creation) and they also fuel the rumours about his involvement in Matoub Lounes‘s assassination.

On her side, Louiza Hanoune is known for her independence and for her voicing of the “street’s” complaints. And many people support her only because she speaks out her mind even though they know it won’t change things. But her recent association with the RND, and  her last declarations about the East-West highway and Sonatrach scandals kind of scratched her nb. 1 opponent reputation. Likewise, her very participation to the legislative and presidential elections gave them some legitimacy; and when she afterwards says that the elections weren’t clean and the deputies actually bought their seats, I think more of hypocrisy than sincere declarations. We say in Algeria “yaklou fel ghella, w ysebbou fel mella”.

So basically, the embedded opposition lacks the power for action and all it does is empty talk. And worse, its presence is used by the system as a support proving the institutions’ and elections’ legitimacy and honesty. This opposition is also used sometimes by the system to deliver messages to Algeria’s foreign partners for we know official Algerian diplomacy prefers to work behind the scenes.

On the other hand, the FFS refuses to acknowledge the Algerian national ruling system and its institutions which it accuses of corruption among other . This stance puts the FFS outside of the national political field, and makes it simply impossible for this party to have an effect on the Algerian national and international politics. It also displays the FFS as a negative and systematic criticism source without any constructive proposals.  At the same time, the FFS takes part in local/regional elections despite their equally corrupt nature; and this proves how incoherent their whole position is. But I guess they cannot afford to leave these elections as it would cut them from their bases, esp. in their battle against their regional enemy, the RCD.

With only 35% turnout at the 2007 legislative elections, the Algerian people apparently think that the APN (including embedded opposition) is useless. This low participation rate could also be explained by the population’s apathy and its loss of interest and trust in all the Algerian political class.

I too think that the Algerian political parties are hopeless and their presence or not in the APN makes no difference. Noureddine Ait-Hamouda himself summarises his (and his colleagues) job as going to the APN, speaking before ENTV’s cameras and then getting paid at the end of the month. I believe change will come from the population itself and certainly not from the parties.

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2 thoughts on ““Embedded” opposition is useless? So is the external one

  1. I think the fact that these ‘opposition’ parties don’t stand a chance in hell in getting to power is part of the problem.

    They know this, the people know this, the ruling party makes sure of this. No wonder it is a puppet show.

    If the stakes were higher, things would be different, but not necessarily better, as the FIS experiment shows (our people cannot be trusted to make important political choices).

    Accountability at all levels is what we should be aiming to instore. Without it, everything becomes a sham.

    • You are right algerianna. And I go even further, they don’t want to get to power or rather they want it but not the responsibility/accountability which comes with it. It’s more comfortable to criticise. They make me think of the Trotskyists and co. in Europe…

      Your point about our people not trustable deserves a deeper analysis. Or may be it’s as simple as what Fellag said (the people knowing the elections results are always the opposite of their actual vote, they decided to vote for those whom they didn’t want to win).

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