Gripped in a deep economic crisis, Algeria continued to live in 2020 the political impasse that marked the second phase of the Hirak. Indeed, the movement, born in February 2019 in the Algerian squares against the regime of Abdelaziz Bouteflika, failed to capitalize on the fall of the President of the Republic and on the storm that led to the resignation of part of the nomenclature and corruption trials against some names of the entourage of the old Regime. The armed forces, the pillar of the Algerian power system, managed to regain institutional control by piloting the succession through the electoral instrument. The first stage was the preparation of the presidential consultations, which led to the election of Abdelmajid Tebboune on December 12, 2019, despite the opposition of the Hirak and an overall low voter turnout. The second stage was the constitutional referendum of November 1, 2020, which established the amendments decided by a Parliament still spawned by the Bouteflika era.
The very low participation of the electorate has shown not only the low consensus towards the transition managed by the armed forces, but also the weakness of a new course of Algeria very similar to the previous one. The first months of Tebboune’s presidency have also attracted much criticism, especially when the Head of State failed to communicate that he was Covid-19 positive, deciding to go abroad for treatment while the country was undergoing the first strong wave of the pandemic. Weakness has also been one of the traits of the Hirak, marked by the presence of two directions: a maximalist group calls for the fall of the system of power and the creation of a constituent assembly, the other sector of the protest movement is more open to dialogue and a reformist line. Fundamentally, however, the Hirak continues not to express a leadership capable of making it an alternative to those who manage Algerian institutions. Evidence of this is the third stage of the succession: the political elections of June 12, 2021, held between boycott and normalization. Individual freedoms are at the expense of a transition not concerted with the demands for change expressed by the protests. Human rights organizations report the arrests of journalists, bloggers and activists.
Arrests continued throughout 2020, despite the protests from many sides. There is, besides politics, a stone guest that is very scary in Algeria. It is the deep economic crisis that grips the country. A crisis that predates the pandemic and which, indeed, is one of the causes of the protest. A crisis exacerbated by Covid-19 which, globally, has caused the collapse of oil prices. In March 2020, a barrel of Sahara Blend went from 50.9 dollars to 17.9, forcing Opec countries, and also Algeria, to cut production. In the case of Algiers, it was a heavy cut, almost 12% between January and November 2020, with the drying up of the most important source of revenue for the State coffers. Falling oil revenues, skyrocketing unemployment, shortages of popular consumer goods: the economic crisis is hitting a population that has already been experiencing widespread social malaise for years. The result is not only a new upsurge in Hirak demonstrations, but the growth of illegal emigration to Spain, which involves young people in particular.