Abstract: The authoritarian Algerian regime faced a democratization attempt and a civil war in the 1990s, but since that time the regime has been characterized by its robustness and stability. Even during the Arab uprisings, the Algerian regime found ways to absorb the protests and survive. How did Algeria become such a stable and robust authoritarian regime after the instable 1990s? The regime introduced new mechanisms such as political liberalization and a multiparty system in the 1990s in an attempt to control the challenge of opposition and respond to it when needed. When faced with such a challenge, the regime uses political liberalization as a strategy and initiates reforms that do not change the political system, yet appease the public. Likewise, the regime uses the multiparty system to its benefit. While providing a relatively free yet limited public space to the opposition and canalizing their activities into the institutional sphere, the regime does not allow free and fair elections, controls the party system, and does not allow opposition to go beyond defined limits. Thanks to these new measures, the Algerian regime changed its form in the 1990s and became a stable and robust authoritarian regime with a strong grip on the political sphere.

More than two decades before the region was shaken by protests and regime change, Algeria had its own experience with major political transformations. After a failed democratization attempt, a coup and an almost decade-long civil war in the 1990s, the Algerian regime reconsolidated and has emerged today as one of the most robust authoritarian regimes in the region. While the Arab uprisings led to the fall of dictators in neighboring countries, the Algerian regime managed to survive and is not expected to yield to future challenges in the medium term. What makes the Algerian regime so resilient today? How has the regime that experienced a breakdown and opened the path to democratization two decades ago rebuilt itself so robustly? What are the main tools that the Algerian regime introduced to sustain its survival? What are the roles and prospects for the opposition as possible challengers to the existing regime? This expert brief answers these questions by looking at the reconfiguration of the Algerian authoritarian regime in the 1990s.