Formation of the Second Algerian Republic, 1976-79

Formation of the Second Algerian Republic, 1976-79

The National Charter approved in June 1976 by a countrywide referendum was the subject of much public and party debate and was the product of party, trade union, and other public association negotiations. The new charter was essentially an ideological proclamation reaffirming the socialist tradition and implicitly ensuring the authoritarian nature of the regime and state. The FLN received explicit recognition as a "unique" national front representing the revolutionary heritage and ideological identification of the Algerian people.

The adoption of the National Charter was quickly followed by the drafting of a national constitution. The constitution was a long document of some 199 articles detailing a new political structure in line with the principles enunciated in the National Charter. The constitution reestablished a national legislature, the National People's Assembly (Assemblée Populaire Nationale), but reasserted the preeminence of the FLN as the single legitimate party. Articles 23 through 26 of the 1976 constitution recognized the unique role of the FLN in the historical tradition and political culture of the Algerian state and confirmed its hegemonic position in the new political structure. Rather than breaking with the personalist character of the past ten years, the constitution reaffirmed the concentration of power in the executive. Boumediene was named head of state and head of government as president and prime minister, commander in chief, and minister of national security and defense, as well as secretary general of the country's single legal party.

Boumediene enjoyed the unwavering support of the military establishment. By consolidating authority and institutionalizing the Algerian political system, he instilled a degree of public confidence in his regime that Ahmed Ben Bella had been unable to achieve. Boumediene was reelected to the presidency in 1976 from a single-candidate ballot.

New elections for the APN were held in February 1977. Although all candidates were members of the FLN, they represented a variety of occupations and opinions. The diverse membership of the new assembly and the high proportion of industrial and agricultural workers and non-elites were lauded as "the final step in the construction of a socialist state" that had begun in earnest with the creation of workers' self-management assemblies at the local level in the late 1960s.

Boumediene died in December 1978. He left behind a consolidated national government, an industrializing economy, an extensive state-centered socialist program, a burgeoning energy export industry, and an apparently stable political system. He also left a political vacuum. Algeria's political development in the 1970s was heavily indebted to Boumediene's personal skills and acumen. The lack of an obvious successor left the FLN and the APN with a dilemma. The president of the APN was named interim head of state; he served until a special congress of the FLN named Colonel Chadli Benjedid secretary general of the party and candidate for president in January 1979. His selection was confirmed in a national election one week later, when 94 percent of those voting supported his nomination.

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