Politics and Society from the Dark Decade to the Hirak

October 2022 9781787384743 560pp
Available as an eBook
EU Customers


When mass protests erupted in Algeria in 2019, on a scale unseen anywhere in the region since the Arab Spring, the outside world was taken by surprise. Algeria had been largely unaffected by the turmoil that engulfed its neighbours in 2011, and it was widely assumed that the population was too traumatised and cowed by the country’s bloody civil war to take to the streets demanding change.

Michael J. Willis offers an explanation of this unexpected development known as the Hirak Movement, examining the political and social changes that have occurred in Algeria since the ‘dark decade’ of the 1990s. He examines how the bitter civil conflict was brought to an end, and how a fresh political order was established following the 1999 election of a dynamic new leader, Abdelaziz Bouteflika. 

Initially underwritten by revenue from Algeria’s substantial hydrocarbons resources, this new order came to be undermined by falling oil prices, an ailing president, and a population determined to have its voice heard by an increasingly corrupt, out-of-touch and opaque national leadership. Exactly twenty years passed before Bouteflika’s presidency was brought to an end by the Hirak protests—this book is an authoritative account of them.


‘Contributes a great deal to our understanding of this under-researched country.’ — Middle East Journal

‘Willis draws on his deep knowledge of Algeria and the entire Maghreb to provide a comprehensive view of the Game of Thrones played by Algerian elites since independence. It prevented popular participation except for periodic outbursts, and entrenched an authoritarian and deeply corrupt system.’ — Marina Ottaway, former Senior Research Associate and Head of the Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

‘An authoritative, masterful and wide-ranging story of Algeria in the twenty-first century, grounded in the continuities of, and evolutions from, the past. This substantial and hugely significant book brings the political historiography of post-Independence Algeria bang up to date. It will surely become a classic.’ — Emma Murphy, Professor of Political Economy and member of the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, Durham University

‘Much more than a history of Algeria, this brilliant book highlights the country’s new challenges: national and regional demands for a new political regime. A remarkable analysis of the political, economic and social issues of post-Bouteflika Algeria that offers the keys to understanding the current situation.’ — Luis Martinez, Senior Research Fellow, CERI Sciences Po, and co-editor of Algeria Modern

‘Willis unearths the dominant historical, political, social and economic determinants that have shaped Algeria’s contemporary politics. An informative and inspiring book that all Algeria specialists and researchers must have on their bookshelves, and that will certainly incite further study of and debate about a complex polity.’ — Yahia H. Zoubir, editor of The Politics of Algeria: Domestic Issues and International Relations


Michael J. Willis teaches contemporary Maghreb politics at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. He is the author of Politics and Power in the Maghreb: Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco from Independence to the Arab Spring and The Islamist Challenge in Algeria: A Political History.

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