I have talked a few times already about my people’s apathy and their dislike of the political matter. I will not try to analyse it here and I will just tell two short stories which occurred at different times and which were reported to me or which I directly witnessed.
These stories are certainly not unique to Algeria and are not intended to provide a general rule but, as I can guarantee their authenticity, I thought I’d just share them.
1999 presidential elections
Somebody I knew was in his Ph.D. years and his (Algerian) scholarship got suspended for some reason. The man decided to join one of candidate Bouteflika’s supporting committees abroad. He might have believed in the man but the main reason for joining the committee was to build a network with
important influential persons in order to get his sponsorship back. He succeeded in meeting some deputies and got himself invited to Club des Pins and also the Aurassi hotel (where some of these deputies lived during the 90s), but as far as I know he never got the scholarship back. Last time I heard from him he was swearing at Bouteflika and the deputies altogether.
2004 presidential elections
There was once a good FLN mayor (adding “good” could give his identity away as there are not many of them out there) who was liked by his people and got elected every time without the shkara and despite the fact his party was hated by his electors. The brave mayor got tired and decided to have some rest. So, unlike our politicians, he completed his term and left. Remained the “resting” bit. He thought he served the FLN very well and deserved a reward. It happened that he knew one FLN minister and together they built-up a plan: Actively support the to-be-president and get diplomatic appointments in some western country. They attended the FLN congress and there they saw the generals and all those who ruled the country. Everyone was saying Benflis had the army support and would be Algeria’s next president.
With this confirmation, they put on all their energy in the task, creating committees and all, but… rumours about an important general being pushed to retirement started and they understood their candidate had already lost before the vote. They understood their dreams will remain just dreams.
2009 presidential elections
I know I promised two stories but I am a generous man and I am adding one here.
Two university students were talking in a bus in Algiers. They looked busy trying to get their agenda dates sorted. One was heading to a meeting of candidate Bouteflika and the other to a meeting of candidate Touati. You’d think they were supporters of their candidates or curious electors trying to make the right choice by attending to these meetings, and you would be wrong. They were heading to these meetings just because they were paid for it, one 1500DA and the other 1000DA.
I shared these stories because their actors are supposed to be among the Algerian political and academic elites, and yet everyone supported their candidate as an answer to the WIIFM question, which is quite normal, but none extended this question enough to reach the people or the country. All of them only considered their narrow self interests. I said above that these little stories can reasonably not be taken as a rule and their value is therefore tiny, but I think this behaviour and way of doing things is unfortunately spread all over the country.