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Elements for the Interpretation of the Historical Sociology of the


									Elements for the Interpretation of the Historical Sociology of
                  the Maghreb Governance

                       MOHAMED TOZY

                         December 2002
        Although considered in the area studies classification as one entity, the Maghreb
States show many differences. Cultural and religious similarities are watered down by
different histories.1 In Morocco, the establishment of a centralized political system, which
draws on its raison d‟être from age-old authoritarian practice, launched a slow and
gradual reform process. Whereas, in Algeria, the process of national construction broke
with the recent past, and postulated a quest of a sublimated past that must be reinvented
to be in the line with the equilibrium of a new society, which had a stressful halting
process. Tunisia presents an intermediate case. The elites ensured a transition that has
partially ceased due to the traditional methods of the government. The authoritarian state
controls the political resource allocation process, and ensures the support of the many of
the middle-class. Nevertheless, the similarities are in the inconsistent demand for the
process of change, as well as in the elitist character of the political game.

         It is, however, very difficult to succeed with a synoptic text that takes a global
perspective, on a debate within the epistemic framework of governance, the conditions of
a political transition and its impact on the behavior of public politics, and the perspectives
that it may present for better management of the resources, a reduction of disparities and
poverty and the guarantee of freedoms in embracing at once, and with the same heuristic
competence the states of Northern Africa2. This difficulty is justified by the weakness of
the “cultural zones” category, and by the unavailability of balanced information that may
result in a comparatist project.

        The targets of this text will, therefore, be very modest. Their anchorage point is
the Maghreb. They consist of identifying the main system of reference, which gave
structure to the paradigm of the governance, set its local declensions as well as allowed
us to interpret the under way changes in the Maghreb political systems, in order to outline
their limits and assess their chances of success. It will briefly analyze, within a
comparative perspective, the historical and philosophical requisites of taking on a
political project aiming at good governance, and at exposing the under way institutional
and political reforms (political culture and management methods of the democratic
transition process).

  Jean Leca “A comparative Analysis of the Mediterranean Political Systems”, French Magazine of
Political Science, 27, (4-5), August-October, 1977. [“Pour une analyse comparée des systems politiques
méditérranéens”, Revue française de sciences politiques.]
  In this text we have chosen, given the time and the available information, to limit our study of the
Maghreb. Therefore, our study will not include Libya and Mauritania, which are part of the political subset:
The Union of the Arab Maghreb.

1. The Archeology of the Political Link, The Filiations and the
References of the Symbolic Values of Cohesion.

        In the Maghreb, like everywhere else, the players on the political stage claim a
very deep historical past. Their acts as well as their words are shaped without their
knowing it by their quest for a past set and forced to match the present, to shed light on it
and to revive it. Right away, one can venture to say that this singular culture, which
intentionally goes back to its roots, to its often depraved nineteenth century practices
(Tunisia and Morocco), or yet deeper in the past without a precise temporality (Algeria),
informs one on the nature of the political link, the recognition strategies, and the
autochtonization of both inherited or imported political cultures.

        The way that the society builds its political universe and considers its relationship
with the government influences a lot on the shape of the political field, the nature of what
is at stake, and the game that is played. Islam3 as well as the Arab nationalism, the
liberalism and the Marxism surely are essential anchorage points of the dominant
political culture. Their influence is not limited by the traditions claimed by governors as
part of their legitimacy, but by the philosophical framework of the thought itself at the
base of the structure of the relationship with the government. An authoritarian Muslim
political regime as Morocco refers instantly to a uniqueness principle that follows on
from the monolithic power of God, which would be the perfect example. Its relation with
the government cannot, therefore, be dual. It implies the elimination of the representation
as a practical modality of acknowledging the other from an angle that formalizes the
political relation by a contract.

        The absence of a teleological relationship with the foundation of the government
and the “will of the governed subjects” adds a particular definition to the concept of
obedience and adherence to the political system. It becomes an act of fusion/extinction
(fana‟) in common ground of power. It implies, beforehand, necessarily the submission to
slavishness because the category of God‟s slaves („abd) is an integrant part of mankind.
The absolute slavishness of mankind corresponds to the absolute power of God.
Therefore, the liberation of mankind implies the fusion with this power. In this drastically
monotheistic culture, the theory of liberation combines paradoxically, as we will see it
within the context of Islamism, first with a theory of slavishness. The curacy of the God,
the Unique, partakes of that double logic of slavery submission, („ouboudiya), freedom,
the only one capable of generating an absolute power over mankind and things. This
system also exists in other states; although, the lexis changes and the references to Islam
are not as explicit. The horizon of nonhuman is defined by the nonreligious, which itself
goes back to the concept of "fitna", which liberates governments from all counts of the
price of a necessarily religious civil peace. The reinvention of concepts such as the
Umma, the nation, or the Zaim, results in homothetic interpretations of the political link

  Mohamed Tozy, “Islamic States and Islamic Religions”, in The Culture, University of all Knowledge,
Volume 6, Odile Jacob, 2001. [“Etats islamiques et religions islamiques” in la culture, Université de tous
les saviors, tome 6 Odile Jacob, 2001]

that create procedures, which substitutes the conventional (contractual) political link
between the citizens and those who govern them.

        Comparisons with the past are found in most analyses that try to account for the
tensions that occur in the Maghreb political field. Modern Algeria observers do not
hesitate to establish strong causality between the colonial past, the over- determination of
martyrdom in the foundation of cohesion symbolic values and the way that violence is
rooted in the everyday life. Omar Carlier has written on this subject, “Certain social
tensions are age-old, however, they dramatically weigh on the present in completely new
ways. First, we notice the centennial conflict between urbanites and Bedouins. Ibn
Khaldoun considered it the essential base of the Maghreb dynamic. Even recently, the
colonial city was still more and more weighing on the old city (medina) and the rural
zone. Crowded by the reassembling camp populations in 1962, and the resumption of the
rural exodus, the urban pressure was mostly absorbed during the ruling of the
Reallocating State (1972-1984). The city sets the rural-urban masses, namely their sons,
in the heart of the crisis and on the front line of the interior war. This also applies for the
relationship between both sexes, which conjunction with the honor code and moreover
with the religious normativeness is translated in a strategic link of the conflict. Other
tensions, also very old, combine with new cleavages. The contradiction in the
brotherhood, or between brothers and cousins, and thus the solidarity among cousins
founded on blood kinship and genealogical proximity can be opposed to the brotherhood
of faith established on the sense of belonging to the umma…”4

        This research excerpt, that we will often quote, defines the identity ingredients
used as levers by the colonization to enter North Africa. They were readopted by the
states, which have followed them as stakes that should be adapted to reshape the Nation
State, and establish once again, with a guilty conscience, the legitimacy to break
with/follow the past. Masqueray5 mentioned the segmentation that evokes the social
structuring principle in the nineteenth century in Kabylia. Robert Montagne6 formalized it
to found the Berber politic in the thirties. French Algeria considered Islam in its
brotherhood and reformist dual dimension as an insoluble base, or as a co-government
framework in the case of the Morocco‟s and Tunisia‟s protectorates.

1.1 The Tribe

        The traditional society used as bench work in Morocco and Algeria was often
described as a society established on family and agnatic relations, and characterized by a
certain equality in the economic relations between the family groups. The community
organizations top the whole society.

  Omar Carlier, Between the Nation and the Jihad, Presse de sciences po.1995, p.21. [Omar Xcarlier, Entre
nation et Jihad, Presse de sciences po.1995, p.21]
  E. Masqueray, The Foundation of the Cities of the Sedentary Populations of Algeria, Aix en Provence,
reedited F. Colonna, Edisud, 1983. [ E. Masqueray, Formation des cités chez les populations sédentaires de
l‟Algérie, Aix en Provence, réed. F. Colonna, Edisud, 1983.]
  Montagne 1930 : Robert MONTAGNE, Les Berbères et le Makhzen dans le Sud du Maroc, Paris, Félix Alcan, 1930,
Roberts 1993 : Hugh ROBERTS, Perspectives on Berber Politics or Durkheim Mistake", in Morocco, The Journal of
the Society for Moroccan Studies, nº 3, SOAS, London 1993, p. 1-19.

      This segmentation approach was soon enough questioned7, because the tribal
system generated hierarchies between the lineages, which very soon appeared as
demographical disequilibria capable of provoking a geographical mobility.

        These disequilibria were furthermore, more or less, used in the central
government specific domination relations. They were also clearly apparent with the
opening of the market (through the emergence of the great kaids at the turn of the century
within the submissive tribes) and they developed a class structuring.

        These precolonial hierarchies must, however, be relativized according to the more
or less important penetration degrees of the central government and the market economy.
In fact, since the second half of the nineteenth century, the elements of transformation
and social, economic and political change of the different foundation communities have
become more and more numerous while diversifying.

       The heavy presence of the State in the countryside did not have the same effect
everywhere when it comes to the level of intervention on the local bodies. Here the
organization of the groups undergoes a juridical political body, which transforms the
“jima‟a” into a driving belt (which is the case of Rhab and the Tadla and Souss
surroundings characterized by a collective status) between the groups and the authorities.
Here these structures are not vested and manage their route lands, water…

       However, and despite the varying levels, deep mutations affect these groups. The
demographic pressure and the scarce resources, the monetization and migrations resulted
in a destabilization and in irreversible changes. Is it, however, enough to integrate new
references and abandon those of the traditional society?

        Culture and local root taking create resistance elements, where the individual,
even inserted in a hierarchy system, find in the group means that guarantee his security,
as well as a particular way to express himself. In spite of the loosening of tribal ties, they
can be mobilized into stressing on this specific character. We witness currently a
reinvention of the tribal tradition. Examples are illustrated by current events in Morocco
and Algeria. In addition to the tribal acts of resistance in toponyms or in texts that govern
the group lands, the tribal culture establishes itself in the structuring of the participative
culture, aiming at the a sustainable development in the case of Morocco, and was
concretized in the „arouch rebellions in Kabylia at the end of the nineties.

       1.2 Islam
       All three studied Maghreb states have mentioned religion in their fundamental
law (see below). Religion constitutes a privileged referent constituent of the imagination
of the group, and a solidarity activation lever. In this scope of the management of the
Sacred, the canonical cover of the participation duties to the commandership of Good,

  Abdallah Hommoudi, “Segmentation, Social Stratification, Political Power and Holiness, Reflections on
the Thesis of E. GELLNER”, Hesperis-Tamuda, Rabat, 1974 vol. XV, p. 147-179. [Abdallah Hommoudi,
“Segmentarité, stratification sociale, pouvoir politique et sainteté, Réflexions sur les thèses de E.
GELLNER”. Hesperis-Tamuda, Rabat, 1974 vol. XV, p. 147-179.]

and the fight of Evil makes it imperious. Two sets of concepts referring to the dogma and
to the history of Islam mention this integrative ability of the religious corpus.

        The group preserves its importance because the religion is practiced inside the
group and not individually. This religious requirement of social nature is expressed by the
borrowing of both Berber and Arab speakers of the concept of Jma‟a (group), which
Arabic origin is jama‟a. Only demons are in an aside outside the group. The latter
protects us from mistakes because the jama‟a does not make any.

         This leads us to another set of concepts more political that define the nature of a
norm, the relationship with the government and the sovereignty status itself. We find in
this set of concepts the consultation (Shûra). The ordinary man, as well as the politically
accountable one must consult with those who are wise, even though he is sure to be right,
i.e., the bey‟a, an allegiance contract that ties the citizens and those who govern them.
Both concepts described above can semantically change; nevertheless, they preserve their
religious filiation and their suggestive ability. The colonization as well as the nationalist
elite made use of this corpus to write down the political history of these states, and define
also the conditions of their future.

2. The Definition of the Precolonial History: The Importance of the
Reformist Imagination

         The reformist movement in the Maghreb states claims a filiation with three
emblematic figures, who are: Kheir Eddine in Tunisia, the emir Abdelkader in Algeria
and the sultan Hassan I in Morocco. The pressures of colonialism as well as the ill
acceptance of its works explain to both historians and politicians the incapacity of these
states to face colonialism and to follow the track of modernization.
         When one compares the works of all three figures in relatively different scopes
characterized by a symbolic Turk presence in Tunisia when compared with Algeria, and a
withdrawn sheriffdom, it occurs to one that the problems are recurrent; although, dealt
with by people with very different backgrounds. The administration, the army and the tax
system were the guidelines of the reform.

2.1 The Precolonial Period: Kheir Eddine in Tunisia

       In Tunisia, Kheir Eddine8 set foot in a beylicate of Tunis, which was an Ottoman
province. The local governments (beys) attempted to obtain an effective autonomy,
however, they considered themselves to be Ottomans whose traditions and ideas they
hold dear. The members of the governing class (the Husseinites) did not mingle much
with the autochthones, and their inland penetration was relative. Just like their
predecessors, and since 1574, they were ensured a different religious education. They
were Hanafites, whereas the people were Malikites.

 Bechir Tlili, Tunisian Social History Studies in the Nineteenth Century, Tunis, Literature and Human
Science Faculty, History Series, VXV, p. 197. [Béchir Tlili, Etudes d‟histoire sociale tunisienne du XIXs,
Tunis, Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines, Série histoire, V.XV, p. 197.]

        The beylicate includes a bureaucracy, a court army, a provincial administration
and a tax levy system. When it comes to Tunisia, this creates a little coherent governing
class. It is comprised of the ruling dynasty, of the Mamlûk elite, few Turk high state
employees and an allied minority born from noble families that hold state offices without
being, nevertheless, subjects of the court.

         Kheir Eddine was considered as the founder of the Tunisian nation, and was
responsible for the first institutional reforms. These works succeeded in the proclamation
of the 1861 constitution. The charter reiterates the fundamental principles of the treaty,
which was suggested few years earlier. It introduces the separation of all three powers
and the accountability of the viziers before the supreme council. This council has wide
prerogatives, and serves as well as Court of Cassation and Revenue Court. The work of
Kheir Eddine (Aqwam al masalik (1867)), is an early synthesis of his reformist project
that is founded on a reflection on the causes of decline and thriving of societies. Kheir
Eddine just like Refa‟a Tahtawi in Egypt looked towards the West and tried to define its
sources of progress. From his point of view, the necessity of discovering the West and its
liberal institutions is a must, just like introducing liberal institutions to the Islamic world,
and interpreting the chari‟a accordingly to modern times. “We believe that we have
peremptorily proven in this introduction, he said, that the political and civil
administration governed by liberal institutions greatly favors the State and the citizens. Its
positive effects are clear as crystal in the constitutional governments. If the political and
civil administration is held, on the contrary, without the counterbalance and the salutary
held back of these institutions, the results are strikingly negative and disastrous…”
         Once he was appointed prime minister in 1873, during particular historical and
political circumstances, he tried to implement his ideas. The Tunisian historian Tlili notes
that he was motivated by deep patriotic upright emotions, and that he was devoted to the
public, daring and worthy of a disarming sincerity.9 Kheir Eddine will, during the ten
years, previous to the French protectorate, reorganize the services and the central and
regional administration (separation of the public services from the military services,
creation of new sectors, coordination, delimitation of attributions and prerogatives,
restructure of kaidates, reform of the notary profession). He will also look into the justice
and consular departments of the management of the Habous estates. He will reform the
tax system, and he will found the Sadiki School in January in 1875. This school, which
represents the example of integration to modernity outlasted him and became the main
breeding ground of the Tunisian elite. This institution was only tarnished later on by the
explosion of the pupils‟ number in the nineties. During three forth of a century and three
successive regimes (Ottoman, French protectorate, independence), the Sadiki School
remained one of the prestigious Tunisian pole of an education that was dispensed in
Arabic and French (in the beginning it was also dispensed in Turkish and Italian). In his
thesis dedicated to the role of the school in the training of a bilingual elite in Tunisia, N.
Sraid10 points out the importance of this school in the reformist plan shared by all three
Maghreb states. In his point of view, the trained elite, who keeps in touch with urban and

  Bechir Tlili, Kheir Eddine, The Africans, V. 8, Jeune Afrique Ed., p.142. [Béchir Tlili, Khéir Eddine, Les
africains, t 8, Ed Jeune Afrique p. 142.]
   N. Sraib, The Sadiki School … [N. Sraib, Le collège Sadiki…]

rural populations, will play an important role in the fight for independence. This role will
follow on in the new sovereign State (60% of the highly placed officials between 1959
and 1969 studied in Sadiki).

2.2 The Much Debated Figure of the Emir Abdelkader of Algeria

        Abdelkader 11is considered to be an Algerian national hero. The Algerians salute
him as the defender or the founder of the Algerian nation. By proving that an Arab
Muslim State could be reborn after three centuries of Ottoman domination, he filled his
compatriots with hope until the liberation war, mentioned Charles Robert Ageron. In fact,
the life of Abdelkader combines, in the national history, with his fight and his
government (1832 – 1847). Nevertheless, he lived more than 36 years in exile, where he
proved to be an excellent manager, and an exiled that created friendships that tied him
with his torturers. The recalling of this incident bothers the nationalist position. The
official line states that the Algerian State does not come from oblivion. Its premises,
aborted under the violence of the colonial pressure, are laid down by the emir in his little
kingdom of Mascara. Introducing his book on the emir, Bruno Etienne wrote about this
fascinating figure of the Algerian history, a controversial totem of the emerging nation in
the clashes of the liberation war, and explained the infatuation that the Algerians hold for
this man. “He was impressed by the modernization work done by Mohamed Ali. It is
imperative to start there; because of, the “willful” contributions of the tribes who awarded
men, horses and weapons were not enough. An independent army that was not influenced
by the tribes, the weather uncertainties, the mood of some and the honor of others, was
needed.” 12
        The epic of Adelkader before his abdication and exile firmly fixed the symbolic
values of cohesion of modern Algeria in an army, which will be taken on by the
liberation war and later on by the members of the résistance. The army was at the heart of
the innovations of the Emir and the first core of a State. The troops that took root, here
and there, in the tribes became a regular army divided in three corps: the infantry, the
cavalrymen and the artillerymen. Each of them had their own uniform and particular
badges. The clothing equipment and the horses were provided and renewed regularly by
the Sultan treasury. The hierarchy and the groups were very strict. The one-hundred-men
companies had an officer and a non-commissioned officer. The squadrons counted fifty
cavalrymen and twelve piece of ordnance for every twelve artillerymen. The herds that
came from the “zakat” were also entrusted to the care of the tribes under the surveillance
of the Kaids who controlled them. The cereals were stored in silos and placed so that they
would escape the eye of the enemy. The Emir wrote in his correspondence that he was
cultivating the land, which belonged to the State by collective fatigue, the “touiza”.

        This sense of military organization, in addition to proclivity to devotion and
mystic meditation, create a hero of messianic dimensions who holds a martyrdom culture
that would be passed on during independence by an army, which rooted its experience in
the third world revolutions. The figure of Abdelkader is also solicited to explain that the

     Charles Robert Ageron Abdelkader, The Africans, V. I, J.A, 1983, p.21. [ Charles Robert Ageron
Abdelkader, Les africains, Tome 1, J.A, 1983, p.21]
     Bruno Etienne, Abdelkader, Hachette, 1994.

Algerian state outside the colonial era did not originate from emptiness. Its tough shape
existed well before, but was suddenly interrupted by the French troops. The wide
documentation left by the Emir, namely his correspondence, gives an edifying insight of
his documentation. The Emir consolidated the network of medersas and reorganized the
justice department.13 Yvonne Turin will confirm later on that the development of culture
through the tight network of the Koranic schools, “medersas and zawiyats”, will be
destroyed by the conquest and will never be rebuilt again…14

2.3 Hassan I

        Hassan I is an important figure15 in the modern history of the Sheriffian kingdom.
This is not mostly due to the fact that the kingdom‟s patronymic is inherited by his
grandson, who is the founder of the modern State, but also to the fact that he shaped the
modern form and style of the government. Hassan I is considered to be the first reformer,
whose project just like Kheir Eddine‟s was interrupted by the colonization. Historians‟
opinion reinforces the national position. Miege states, “The Sultan‟s action is doubled.
He wants to maintain the cohesion of the empire, and to grant a government with a land,
without settling for the management of people and tribes.” The modern reforms that the
Sultan tried to introduce aimed at creating financial, military and administrative bodies.
The tax collection is eagerly carried on. The finances are carefully managed despite the
weight of war indemnities, which Morocco owed to Spain following its defeat in
Tetouan, and the great real or fictive loss compensations, which the Makhzen (treasury)
owed to the Europeans or to their protégés. The treasury would be well-stocked thanks to
the restructure of the “oumana” corps, who were taken in public service. This would
automatically strengthen the army. The reform would be implemented in four steps;
transforming the recruitment by the elaboration of a specialized tribe conscription (guich)
and the creation of a regular army (tabor) that would at the end represent two third of the
workplace16, resorting to foreign instructors (French, English and Spanish), buying
modern weapons, namely pieces of artillery, and trying to create a war industry, sending
young Moroccans abroad who would be well or badly employed, organizing the post
office, and especially reducing authority officials assigned to the tribes. He also tried to

   “Just like education, wrote the Emir, I have organized the justice everywhere. The judges were
remunerated with ten douros monthly; furthermore, they were remunerated for certain acts. I wanted these
officials to be everywhere, even to follow my army on foot. The Turks killed out of capriciousness and
cruelty and always without trial. I, I wanted that not one capital execution be done without a trial, in
accordance with the law of God, Whom I consider myself to be the Lieutenant. Therefore, every time that
the soldiers marched in tows, they were accompanied by a judge, and two assessors in each of which the
chief bailiff or the police officers executed the judgment. Nevertheless, from our point of view it was not
the executioner that killed, but the law.” Quoted by B. Etienne, op.cit, and p.145.
   Yvonne Turin, Cultural Clash in the Colonial State of Algeria, Paris, Maspero, 1983. [ Yvonne Turin,
Affrontements culturels dans l‟Algérie coloniale,Paris , Maspéro,1983]
   J.I. Miege, Hassan I, The Africans, V.3, 1983, p.242. [J.l Miége,Hassan 1 er, Les africains, T.3, 1983,
   Daniel Nordman, “Expeditions of My Hassan”, Statistic Assay, Hesperis Tamuda, V. XIX, 1980-81.
[Daniel Nordman, “ Les expéditions de My Hassan, Essai statistique”, Hesperis Tamuda, V.XIX, 1980-81]

develop cash crops on the Makhzen lands, such as sugarhouses, and industrial units, such
as cartridge factories, arsenal…

        Beside the reforms, Hassan I especially reincarnates a style of government, a
culture of power that Hassan II will strive to reinvent. He takes on the Makhzen, a
concrete set of mechanisms of government economy, or a non-profit-making political
economy jointed with an efficient capacity of flourishing thanks to the authority
distribution with a near to zero cost. This savoir-faire reconciles with the State poverty
and its incapacity to promote itself as a dominant political and economic player in the
Makhzen of Hassan I. It is also a government system that seeks to upgrade pluralism and
to make do with holding the reins of the many autonomic decision making centers.
During his rule, the Makhzen founded in a hostile international environment17,
developed, first and foremost, its homeostatic property. Thus, it developed its capacity to
induce a fragile but “always” renewable equilibrium between multitudes of powers. The
difficulties to maintain a professional army, furthermore to control it, are one of the
causes. However, they do not justify the concern that seems to guide the choices of the
Makhzen of a minimum cost political control. The relatively inefficient territorial and
personnel control ensues as much from a structural weakness in the State bodies, as from
a particular government system that favors information monopoly. The eagerness of the
Hassanian Makhzen to collect information and to improve its quality makes it a
strategical resource, which structures the domination mechanisms.

3. The Colonial Period

3.1 The Populating Colonization in Algeria

        Many are the authors18 who support the thesis of a populating colonization in
Algeria, which nurtures the project of annexing then assimilating the three Algerian
departments. The symbolic violence of the act of a conquering France caught the
attention of historians. The opinion movement that accompanied the conquest soon inlaid
the concept of a populating colonized Algeria. It would be the most efficient way to
reinforce the conquest. This politic was concreted by the occupation of the land. The
estate administration took over the land using a variety of expropriation procedures. We
name for example the billeting similar to the tribes driving back, and the alleged rights of
the French State on public habous, uncultivated or unclaimed lands, forests, etc… The
administration, later on, created and built rustic centers. It granted free individual prizes
to French immigrants, in case of a compulsory suspensive residence. The official
colonization was preferably intended for the East-Southern French farmers and for
Algeria‟s Europeans, namely Spanish. Around 700 villages were accordingly founded.

  Jean Bringon, The History of Morocco, Paris, Hatier ed., 1967, p.415. [Jean Brignon, Histoire du Maroc,
Paris, éd. Hatier, 1967, p.415.]
     Imperial Identities, Stereotyping, Prejudice and Race in Colonial Algeria, B. Tauris, London, 1995.

        The Algerian Muslims, defeated but rebellious, were submitted to very different
politics. One politic aimed, after a military conquest, at a “cultural conquest”, at the
reconciliation or transformation of these Orientals who kept their eyes fixed on the Arab
world. Other suggested their assimilation or their frenchifying. Whereas, the other politic,
the assimilation politic, mostly wanted to bend their interests to the will of the suitability
of colonization. Therefore, a real misunderstanding was raised and would last all
throughout the French Algeria‟s history19. The 1865 senatus-consultum illustrated well
this colonial politic ambiguity. It declared all indigenous Algerians French, if they
required it, and if they renounced their personal status code as Muslims. The others were
relegated to an inferior status. Muslims were subjected to a special regime, to an
indigenous code instituted in 1881, and to special courts, repressive and criminal courts
(1902). Yet, the integration succeeded in certain areas, which will cause traumas and
acculturation. It was the case of the secular school through which Jules Ferry thought of
conquering the Muslims. He inspired a more or less continuous educational politic,
namely in Kabylia. Results were deceiving, only a minority was able to take advantage of

        In these conditions, the Algerian Muslim society could not resist the colonial
shock. This society suffered land and cultural dispossession. Its traditional elite was
marginalized and its cultural system degraded. The centennial anniversary that aimed at
celebrating the successful assimilation of a French Algeria was also the date of birth of an
Algerian sense of nationalism. Whereas before 1900, the Muslim community was only
hoping for a providential Mahdi. Around 1900 and 1930, the few Algerian elites, taught
in French primary schools, only saw a way out of these claims of equality in the French
citizenship. The Ulemas and Arabism champions brought up a second way out, which
was the “Algerian Nation”. The Ulemas reiterated: “Algeria is my land, Arabic is my
language and Islam is my religion.”

        The war of Algeria (1954-1962), which will crown this process, is a founding
stone of the French and Algerian modern history. In France, it provoked the fall of the
Fourth Republic, and gave way to the General de Gaulle to come to power in 1958, and
generated a serious government crisis that resulted in the April 1961 putsch. In Algeria,
the conflict resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands, the transfer of millions of
peasants, and the long term dismantle of the economy structure. Moreover, it gave way to
the coming to power of the FLN (National Liberation Front), which established itself as
the only inheritor of the Algerian nationalism. As a unique party, it denied for almost
thirty years all political and cultural pluralism. The memories of this war will haunt the
coming generations. Overshadowed and shortened, it will feed all fantasies. B. Stora20
notes that “the culture of war” is responsible for “the raise of dreadful automatisms”
among a section of the younger generation. The intentional simplification of the history
of the Algerian nationalism, the omnipresence of the first November 1954 as “the symbol
of a remade history”, the upgrade of violence, and the prevailing of “an offensive

  J. Leca, Algeria, Universalis. [J. Leca, Algérie, Universalis.]
  B. Stora, , The war, The History, The Politic, Michalon, Paris, 1995. [B.Stora La Guerre, l'Histoire, la
Politique, Michalon, Paris, 1995.]

populism”, these are the factors that erased the memory of the Algerian people.
Moreover, we underline the parallelism between the Algerian war and the recent civil war
opposing the Islamists to the army. Both wars of Algeria show “disturbing similarities”.

3.2 The Tunisian Protectorate: A Soft colonization

        The French Politic in Tunisia differed from the one lead in Algeria and Morocco.
It was not a populating colonization aiming at a demographic and cultural transformation.
The French counted 48 000 men whereas the Italians far off counted 88 000 men in 1911.
Italians benefited from a special regime until 1944. Nevertheless, they were not
assimilated to the French. Also and unlike Morocco, the protectorate did not choose a
planned restoration of the traditional political system. The country‟s surface and the weak
resistance resulted in a smooth seize of power.

        The eclipse of the bey hallowed the mighty power of the general resident, who
was the Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as the President of the Cabinet. All the
protectorate services fell within his authority. Next to the traditional administration,
limited to two departments, new services were handed to French state employees.
Whereas on the local level, the hierarchy of the bey‟s agents, kaids, caliphs and sheiks
was not modified. Their number, however, was reduced, and their administration
controlled by French civil inspectors.

        Representative institutions were not granted any place in the regime. Under the
pressure of the colony, the Cambon resident successors were forced to create an advisory
conference, which, at first, only included the French. A Tunisian section, which included
notables appointed by the government, was added to the conference in 1907. At the same
time, the assembly competence was extended. The budget examination was from then on
included in its attributions.

        The arrival of a new generation that ignored, at manhood, at the turn of the
twentieth century, the vices of the old beylicate administration and that was nurtured on
the Nahda culture, allowed the structure of a new view on history. The influence of the
movement of the young Turks soon allowed a positive attitude toward the experience of
Kheir Eddine. It also allowed to consider the protectorate as a period that interrupted a
process, which was already ahead of schedule comparing with what was proposed by the
French. Constitutionalism is presented as the ground on which lays the autochthon
political culture. It was in these circumstances that nationalists under the banner of
“young Tunisians” demanded a constitution (Destour in Arabic). The cultural distance
between both nationalism parties, represented by the Zaytounians and the Sadikians, was
reduced thanks to their common interpretation of the reformist past. M. Camau writes, in
this connection, “Although the Sadiki School was historically the melting pot of the
modernist “elite”, the Tunisian nationalism assumed, however, the heritage incarnated by
Kheir Eddine, the father of the renaissance.” The nineteenth century reform movement
laid the foundations of a Tunisian political culture centered on the reform of the State.

The constitution demand, symbolized by the reference to the 1861 text, appeared to be
the main theme of the nationalist position throughout the history of the protectorate.21

       Constitutionalism will turn into the ideology of a unique party, with which it will
combine not only with the term “destour” and later on “neo-destour”, but also as a
syncretic legitimation referentiality that associates, in an elitist perspective, the nineteenth
century autochthon reformism heritage, the Salafist ideology of renaissance presented by
Tha‟libi, and the French republican values of freedom and justice.

         Following the WWI, younger members of the Destour party tried to lead the party
into battle again. After his break up with the party direction, Habib Bourguiba decided to
start a rival party, which would soon come to be known as the “Neo-Destour”. This party
was widely opened to the people.

        The emergence of the Neo-Destour displayed a change in the movement social
and cultural foundation. The official line showed a simplistic opposition between an
archaic destour held by a “khassa” (elite), which attracted a heterogeneous workforce
turned to constitutional but traditionally inspired values, and a neo-destour more inclined
toward modern values, and available to the middle class and new emerging social groups.

        In fact, the difference is not that well defined. The neo-destour, under the
leadership of Bourguiba, has a very pragmatic, if not very opportunistic, interpretation of
the Tunisian political stage. The neo-destour, unlike the movement lead by Tha‟libi, did
not only define the Tunisian nation as an entity already existing before the colonial
system, and that should be searched for in the reformist interpretation of Islam, but also
as a project to be built. In fact, it was this interpretation that the official prints tried to
sell. A more scrupulous analysis of the legetimation of Bourguibism, which would be the
inheritor of the neo-destour in his battle against the communists and the traditional elite,
informs one about a more eclectic line. This line associates a skilful exploitation of all
local culture levers including religion.

3.3 The Big Investors’ Colonization22 and the Traditionalizing Politic in Morocco

       The safeguard of the state traditional organizations met the requirements of the
protectorate treaty as well as the personal options of Lyautey. These options were
imposed by his personal fondness for the monarchal regime, an oriental fascination, in
addition to his desire of not repeating the precedent experiences in North Africa. This
displayed option of restoration and credibility was only limited to words, and to a
scrupulous respect of proprieties, appearances and symbols. The reality was something
else. The protectorate came to power and substituted itself for the traditional
administration by reducing it to an ornament and to a simple understudy. The direct

  M. Camau, Power and Institutions in the Maghreb, The Maghreb Horizons, 1983. [M. Camau,
pouvoir et institutions au Maghreb, Horizons maghrébins,1983.]
     C.A. Julien, Morocco Facing Imperialisms, Paris, Jeune Afrique ed., 1978. [ C.A.Julien, Le Maroc face aux
impérialismes, Paris, éd.Jeune Afrique, 1978]

administration was included in the organization of the protectorate. A Quai d‟Orsay
directive made this clear. “We do not want to innovate, but simply use the existent
institutions. We should organize our protectorate from the heart of the sheriffdom.
Behind the Makhzen décor, the French organism, which should be quickly and
extensively established, will instigate every thing.” The Makhzen was, therefore,
reduced. A structured French administration modeled on Jacobinism took over the reins
of the country. The Makhzen reform dictated in the 1912 treaty of Fez, which institutes
the protectorate, was interpreted as in the creation of a new structure backing the old one.
The latter should at all cost be preserved from all change in the name of tradition. In
addition to the limitation of intern and extern sovereignty planned in the treaty of the
protectorate, the residency restricted the role of the Sultan to approving measures taken
without his control. It also reduced his State to few vizierates not in tune with the realities
of the country regardless of their many theoretical attributions.

        The new instituted regime was founded on the collaboration between the
residency and the Sultan23. The Sultan‟s status and authority were expressly defined in
the treaty. His role as a supreme Imam, source of all indigenous power, was confirmed.
The supremacy of the Koranic Law was also recognized in the treaty. The French
government was committed to “safeguarding the religious situation and the traditional
prestige of the Sultan”.

         In the point of view of the officials in charge of the elaboration of the Fez treaty,
“These were not only pleasant phrases meant to soothe the Sultan‟s ego. They meet the
method of a government eager not to harm the feelings called by the Sheriffian origin of
the current dynasty, in the monarchic State of Morocco. It also seeks to preserve what is
left of it after all moral vicissitudes, which the government used on the public opinion,
regardless of its abuses, in order to exploit it24.”

        In the legislative sector, the treaty authors expressly stated that the Sultan held the
power to impose sanctions (dahir) on the taken measures. However, no sooner had they
stated it than had they added that it only takes effect “on measures proposed by the
residency”. In other terms, the Sultan could not initiate laws. The residence could enact
all measure that it estimated necessary. A possible clash between the Sultan and the
resident only happened with the decline of the protectorate, which resulted in the exile of
Sultan Mohamed V, the 20th of August 1953.

        Throughout colonization, the administration made great reforms using simple
circulars or residential decisions. The Makhzen was protected but its authority was
mostly limited. Before the protectorate, the Sultan was an Imam, an administrator, but
also the head of the army. Leading his “mehallas”, he went into wars. Diplomacy was his
to consider.

 Abdeslam Baita, The « Retraditionalizing » of the State Structures in Morocco During Colonization, in
Abdelali Doumou (Dir), 1987, p.35-64. [Abdeslam Baita, La "retraditionalisation" des structures étatiques
dans le Maroc colonial, in Abdelali Doumou (Dir)., 1987, p.35-64]
     A. Baita idem p.39.

        With the treaty of Fez the Sultan kept his ability to nominate and remove state
employees from office, he however, was not allowed, as it was the bey‟s case in the
Tunisian protectorate, to take out loans or make concessions. In addition to these internal
sovereignty restrictions, diplomacy was entrusted to the resident, and the command of the
army was granted to the troops chief commander. The traditional administration was
reorganized by the 31st of October 1912 dahir (decree), which entrusted the
administration of the country to the great vizier, under the authority of the Sultan. In fact,
the structure of the administration was fundamentally reinvented; even though, the
appearances were the same. The dahir stated, “For every decision, the great vizier must,
beforehand, confer with the resident.” The vizierate, an ancient institution, was
reintroduced in its most archaic forms.

         The protectorate coming to power contrasted with its kind words on the Moroccan
specificity and the affirmation of the multi-secular property of the system. In fact, its
position generated a duality between two systems, and exempted the protectorate from
making reforms, which would make it accountable for the autochthons. This politic
allowed a colonization with a minimum of costs. From the point of view of the
protectorate theoreticians, who were often chosen among the indigenous affairs officers
or among those in the service of the security branch of the residency police force, “People
of Morocco know how to differentiate between reality and appearances. To them, what is
important is the upholding of the number of those working in the Makhzen, and
safeguarding their traditional institutions.” Initiated by Lyautey, this doctrine was brought
to an extreme degree in the protectorate organization and operation. While in Tunisia, the
French and bey state employees were close and direct collaborators, in Morocco, the
Makhzen was isolated from the protectorate service. Gaillard wrote, “Knowing the
religious character of the Sultan and the viziers‟ government, and in order to keep up
their prestige, they had to live isolated from the European element. Kaids and religious
officials, who were going to a beniqua (alcove) of the Makhzen, had to find the vizier
among his secretaries working as they sit in a circle on a carpet in accordance with the
ancient tradition. Had they entered offices furnished in a European style, they would have
felt that the old Makhzen has disappeared.”25

        The ambiguous position of the protectorate toward a modernization project was
confirmed by what is commonly known as the great kaids politic. Starting from the
protectorate early years, Lyautey thought about the renewal of the kaids‟ system. This
step had many advantages. It would allow him, using a seduction politic led by officials
from the indigenous affairs, to limit military operations, to rally the notables by
entrusting them the command of their own tribes, and to favor the recruitment of
supporters to complete “pacification”. These measures gave the protectorate the image of
a preserving force respectful of the traditional structures.

        The politic aiming at consolidating the authority of the kaids resulted in the
foundation of a representative administration, which was not subject to the laws of a
constitutional State extolled by France. Abuses of power and arbitrary actions were an
everyday occurrence. This despotic localized authority was extended to the whole
     A. Baita op. cit. p.40.

country including zones, which had a relative autonomy within the segment system of
tribes. In some regions of the middle and grand Atlas, the imagination of the people
perpetuated an assembly (jma‟a) and elected chiefs (Amghar) system. The protectorate
affirmed the power of those upgraded to loyal notables and had aggravated the crisis of
the deliberative assemblies.

        The renewal of kaidalism and its extension met the directives of Lyautey. He
wrote: “The creation of great indigenous commanders under our auspices in regions that
we do not efficiently occupy and the creation of a police comprised of tribes, these are
the procedures that I would like to see implemented where possible.” The regime
centered on a traditional chieftainship, whether it is Sheriffian or secular, represents to
the colonization a Maghreb cultural exception. It would facilitate the administration of
the country thanks to the primacy given to personal ties. From Lyautey‟s point of view,
the kaids‟ system constitutes the best way to avoid direct administration.

        Next to chieftainship, the colonization scrupulously defined the tribal structure, in
order to create an organization mode that would tie the primitive instinct of solidarity and
the sense of freedom, and even a sense of democracy often corrupted by conversion into
Islam. The following text of Masqueray clearly defines this state of mind.

        “The African city theoretically exists without walls nor buildings. It does not need
to be built on the earth, to be seen, to be materialized, and to be defined by Romulus or
Theseus in order to exist and rule. It lays in the heart of all free men who live in it. Its
official demonstration is the meeting of “Imokrânen”, who deliberate, issue decrees and
decide whether to make peace or war with their neighbors. […] Had the town hall been a
Djurdjura plateau surrounded with ash trees, a lawn shaded by walnut trees in the High
Abdi, or a sandy garden under the intertwining palm leaves dome in the Mozabites‟
Sahara desert, it does not matter really. People come eagerly from neighboring mountains
and valleys. Decisions that are taken, or at least unanimously agreed upon, are
implemented. The “amin” presides. The “imokrânen” and the “oqqâl” (the reasonable and
the wise) take the decisions. That is enough… The remark that strengthened me in my
ideas that the Kabyles‟ assemblies are never popular meetings is precisely the relatively
limited size of the meeting places. All “djemâa” are big enough for the tenth part of a city

        The tribe politic was established since the beginning of the protectorate under the
guise of the respect of the traditional structures. It knew its peak with Berber politic and
the promulgation of the Berber “dahir” imposing a jurisdiction separation between Arab
speakers and Amazigh. This text was the starting point of the national movement, which
crystallized around the Islamic identity. Already in 1914 a “dahir‟ stipulated, “The tribes
considered as of Berber customs are and will be governed and administered by their own
laws and customs, under the control of the authorities.” After the WWII, France faced the

  Masqueray, The Foundation of Cities Among the Sedentary Populations of Algeria, North African
Archives, EDISUD, 1983. [Masqueray, Formation des cités chez les populations sédentaires de l'Algérie,
Archives maghrébines, EDISUD, 1983.]

independence manifesto written by the young elite of the city bourgeoisie, as well as
European schools and the “karaouyine” (peasants) university prizewinners. The decade
that followed the war will be characterized by the unprecedented blossoming of the
nationalism, which will succeed in enrolling the monarch and the future heir to the throne
and transforming him into the symbol of the national unity. In view of this situation, the
residency, which was searching for a new legitimacy, thought of reforms that will allow
the surge of a new elite that would be its social foundation. During this period, the
democracy and mass participation slogans became the leitmotivs of the colonial speech.
It was, however, too late. The conflict reached the point of no turning back with the
deportation of the King and his replacement by Ben Arafa. This action triggered the
armed resistance.

4. From Decolonization to the Construction of the State
The Zaim, The Heroic People and the Miraculous Monarch
Three Figures of the Constituent Myth of the New Political Identity

         The relation between processes of decolonization and the restructuring of the
elites that would take over after the declaration of independence is almost evident. In
Tunisia and Morocco, the armed resistance played a less important role compared with
the political action. The nationalism, which was animated by the city bourgeoisie and the
modern schools prizewinners, asserted itself to both Ulemas and liberation army troops,
which included countryfolks supervised by ancient soldiers. The late alliance of the
monarchy to the national movement allowed it to preserve its position and to succeed at
the end of the process, whereas in Tunisia, the alienation of Turks was enhanced with
their half-hearted contribution to the liberation movement. Therefore, their eviction
became a simple formality once Tunisia claimed its independence. In Algeria, the
nationalism of Ferhat Abbas was overwhelmed by the armed action and the war of
liberation influenced the sustainable structure of a political culture as well as the criteria
that set the emergence of a new elite.

4.1 The Supreme Combatant

        Head of the party that guided the national movement, Habib Bourguiba did not
appear, the day of the independence, as the undisputed leader that he will become few
years later. The myth of supreme combatant that he will earn himself later on was not
also commonly widespread.

       The Neo-Destour, which was then the main political force of the country, did not
have the monopoly. Other political forces fought for the nationalist legitimacy, namely
the Zaytounians with intact glamour, but also the highborn families, close to the bey

       At the heart of the Neo-Destour itself, the ascendant of Bourguiba27 was not
confirmed until he was granted the support of the union (UGTT), and after the eviction of

     Clement Henry Moore, “Bourguibisme in Tunisia”, Current History (257), January 1963, p.30-40.

Salah Ben Youssef. This allowed the birth of a new social foundation, which was less
inclined toward a workforce with an Arab and Islamic identity.

        The conference of the Neo-Destour held in Sfax in November 1955, in the
absence of Ben Youssef, was a turning point in the trial of strength. It legitimized
Bourguiba‟s leadership over the party, sealed his alliance with the UGTT leadership, and
confirmed the vocation of the Neo-Destour to decide of the country‟s destiny. The Neo-
Destour leadership devoted itself to gradually deprive the bey of all its prerogatives in
favor of the government headed by Habib Bourguiba. The party did so in the name of the
Assembly, which represented the will of the people, without however acknowledging that
it has other competences except advisory ones. The eviction of the bey became a mere
formality. The 25th of July 1957, the National Constituent Assembly took its first and
final decision by declaring the republic.

        The first of June 1959 constitution institutionally hallowed the status of “zaim” by
establishing a presidential regime. It also allowed the foundation of a State totally imbued
with the party. The Party-State engulfed the society by completely extending its control
over individuals and groups. It controlled the country according to a new division, which
subordinated the regional and local authorities to the political center as well as
transcended community solidarities.

         The legacy of the constitutionalist culture was largely exploited to shape an
institutionalized form of authoritarianism. The legal formality was set up as a rule of
conduct, which did not stop it from being fictive or sometimes surreal.

4.2 The Martyr People

        In Algeria, the light was cast onto the people, as being both subject of history and
as source of all legitimacy. The people in question though did not have anything to do
with the population, which was an immaculate entity draped in the shroud of
martyrdom.28 An outdistanced history of modern Algeria, which had nothing to do with
the pictures of the movie “Les années de braise” (The fiery years) directed by Lakhdar
Hamina, scrupulously described this sublimation process of a people that was prevented
from succeeding on the political level. It, at the same time however, nurtured the
workforce of a counter culture that grew on the same values of martyrdom and refused all
“hogra”. That is how Carlier describes this situation, “In 1954, the APP-MTDF
(Algeria‟s People Party-Movement for the Triumph of Democratic Freedoms) dominated
the political scene. The Muslim civil society had learned to vote in favor of the MTDF, to
go on strike with the CGT (French Trade Union), and to listen to Ulemas in the
“medersa” or the mosque. Starting 1956, the NLF (National Liberation Front) engulfed
all representation and mediation parties involved in the war, i.e., the association and the
union, the notables and the clerks. All were mobilized whether they liked it or not in the
death fight against the colonial authority. In 1962, the NLF transformed, without meeting
any opposition, and moreover without any shootings, his contesting unanism into a

  A. Moussaoui, From Violence to Djihâd, Annals ESC, Nº 6, 1994, p.1315-1333. [A.Moussaoui, De la
violence au Djihâd, Annales ESC, n°6, 1994, p. 1315-1333.]

management unanism. It safeguarded the populist line, however reinvested it in a new
authoritarian order in the name of the sacrifices made by the people “of a million and a
half martyrs”, and in the name of the revolutionary legitimacy “gained by the wager of
the moujahidin”.29 The structuring of the Algerian society after the liberation war and
throughout the seventies and the eighties referred to a limited lexis, where the concepts of
“chahid” and “moujahid” dominated. The first term promised heaven to the ascendants
and descendants of war victims. The second rehabilitated in a gradually increasing
number the direct and indirect participants to the liberation war. The social stratification
and the resources allocation were tied to the war until under both the influence of the oil
crisis and the liberation politic, the differentiation and stratification criteria changed. 30

4.3 The Holy King

        In Morocco, the exile of Mohamed V, the 20th of August 1953, shed the lights on
the monarchy as leader of the nationalist movement. It allowed the monarchy to optimize
the secret but half-hearted ties that the prince Hassan, heir of the throne of Morocco, had
with few elements of the first nationalist networks. In his three years of exile, Mohamed
V acquired the status of a mythological hero, who appeared to many of his subjects in the
moon and was the subject of a particular devotion.

         Mohamed V acquired a really strong “saintliness”, which was strengthened with
unfailing support of the national movement. The mobilization of a legitimacy system
both charismatic and hagiographic occurred naturally in reference with the available
cultural stock. Insisting on the Sheriffian origin of the ruling dynasty in Morocco might
appear as an anachronism. It, however, played a deciding role in the political competition
between the national movement and the monarchy. The Sherffian origin is not a sufficient
factor that would automatically lead to power. It is, however, a necessary criterion to
access to the circle of competitors in the game of succession. In fact, the power was
historically restricted to the group of Chorfa. Moreover, the successor must have a direct
filiation with the Prophet, therefore affecting the structure of authority by adding a
specificity to the obedience relationship and by partially transforming its sense. The
constitution states that obedience is a civic duty, and the Chari‟a makes it a canonical
obligation, whereas the Sheriffism transforms it into a source of blessing.31

5. The Management of Heritages and the Succession Negotiations
       This historical detour allows us to ask important questions, which worried the
Maghreb political elites, and on which was emphasized the surge of reformists, or which
were considered as levers of a particular conception of the foundation of a nation state.

   Omar Carlier, op. cit. p.18.
   Luis Martinez, The Civil War, Karthala, 1998. [Luis Martinez, La guerre civile, Karthala, 1998.]
   Mohamed Tozy, Monopoly of the Symbolic Production and the Hierarchical Organization of the Political
and Religious Field, Christiane Souriau (dir.) The Muslim Maghreb in 1979, Paris, CNRS, 1981, p.219-
234. [Mohamed Tozy, Monopolisation de la production symbolique et hiérarchisation du champ politico-
religieux, Christiane Souriau (Dir.), Le Maghreb musulman en 1979.Paris, CNRS, 1981p. 219-234.]

This conception created almost permanent tensions between a particular interpretation of
history and an almost as much particular reception of the ideals of liberalism and the
political doctrines in fashion in the fifties. The levers in question were religion, law and

5.1 The Language: Spoils of War or Colonial Corruption?

        In the Maghreb arabicization took a particular direction. It consisted of restoring
the Arabic language. It was an important moment of the cultural decolonization. In fact,
if Arabic was a fundamental element of the nationalist speech in preparation, when it
came to the real society the gap was enormous between the spoken languages and the
official Arabic. In Algeria and Morocco more than in Tunisia where the Tunisian Arabic
was dominant, the populations spoke their mother tongues, i.e., Algerian Arabic,
Moroccan, or Berber depending on the regions. These non-written languages have many
variations, which are sometimes called dialects. Before the colonization, the only written
language was Arabic, called classical or literal, and introduced with Islam starting from
the seventh century. This largely agreed upon observation among historians brings out
finer points. The written Arabic was also used as graphical medium of the local spoken
Arabic and Berber, namely in the trade activities and among notaries. French, spoken and
written, was introduced and imposed by the colonization until it acquired the status of
official language.

         When they gained their independence, the Maghreb states decided to give back to
the Arabic language its status, which was taken away by colonization. This option was in
the extension of the national construction, which was interpreted by an apparent fight
against the French language, the language of colonization, but also the language of a
criticized elite. It despised all autochthon languages that were banned from the schooling
system and the administration official activities. On the political level, the Pan-Arabism
conveyed this option, although the Arab nationalism run by Nasser‟s Egypt was not
adopted with the same enthusiasm by the third world Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco that
were mistrustful of a conquering ideology for different reasons.

         In Algeria, starting 1962, the arabicization group engulfed Algerians of dominant
Arabic culture, indeed even exclusively Arabic, who wanted to settle down in massive
French speaking circle. This group included Koranic schools or “medersas” executives,
Arab universities intellectuals often with religious or literary backgrounds. They defined
their line, as the following “Is only “arabist” the monolingual Algerian trained in Arab
countries. During the presidency of M Ahmed Ben Bella (1962-1965), their influence
was strongly counterbalanced by the progressive wing. The president did not hesitate to
say in public “Arabicization is not Islamization”.

       The second president, Houari Boumedienne (1965-1979), was more drastic. He
issued a decree in 1968 imposing the arabicization of the civil service and allowing three
years for implementing the project. Civil servants must learn within three years enough
Arabic to work in this language. The majority of French speakers will not achieve this
goal. Arabists, however, would seize the opportunity to enter the civil service. It was the

same in the schooling system, which witnessed an intensification of arabicization with
the massive import of Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian volunteers starting 1970, at the
instigation of M Abdelhamid Mehri who controlled the primary and secondary education.
Muslim brethren, who were redeploying themselves after the repressive campaigns of
Nasser, the Syrian and Jordanian regimes, infiltrated these volunteers. The higher
education would resist longer before being in its turn subject to the reform.

         In the political line, the Arabic language was always tied to the two sources of
legitimacy that founded the government, i.e., the struggle for national liberation and the
defense of Islam. The main players made of the arabicization a struggle of the Arabic
language against the French language. This was true insofar as the first is established as
the national and official language replacing the French language. Nevertheless, this
politic is also presented as a conflict with France, indeed even with those in Algeria that
use French in their activities. They would be denounced as the supporters of “the Party of
France” (hizb Fransa).

       In Morocco32 and in Tunisia the stakes of arabicization were less dramatic; they
were, however, at the center of political competitions between Arab nationalists, Marxists
and Berber sympathizers. Arabicization coincides with a form of Islamization led by
governments, in which the Istiqlal party was part. At the end of the seventies, the
government of Azzeddine Iraki started the arabicization of human sciences, namely
philosophy, and even decided of the creation of departments of Islamic sciences. Later
on, the government arabicized primary and secondary education. Scientific studies and
economy are still taught in French in higher schooling, whereas baccalaureate graduates
are supposed to be Arabists.

        In Tunisia, the equilibrium between the two languages initiated by the Sadiki
school system was gradually broken. It was the government of Mzali that would expend
arabicization on all the education system except for the higher education. Many
observers33 underlined the anomie situation that characterized the Maghreb middle class,
which was called upon to be the driving force behind the political change. The language
paradox has something to do with it. “Black skins, white masks” said Frantz Fanon
almost thirty years ago… Colonization was over. Still the rip remained in the collective
conscience and in the heart of men. Close to us, the Maghreb people suffer acute pain,
because of the language rout and the destruction of thought. This does not help the
establishment of solid democracies. How would the young underprivileged classes know
how to express themselves other than in “bread riots”?34

  M. El Ayadi, Language, Culture and Thought, Concerning the Matter of Arabicization, File of Candidacy
for Capacitation, Paris VIII, 1996. [M. El Ayadi, Langue, culture et pensée, à propos de la question
de l‟arabisation , dossier de candidature à l‟habilitation, Paris VIII, 1996.]
   Gilbert Grandguillaume, Arabicization and Cultural Politic in the Maghreb, Paris Maisonneuve, 1983.
[Gilbert Grandguillaume, Arabisation et politique culturelle au Maghreb, Paris Maisonneuve, 1983]
   Freund Wolfgang, The Great Torture of Minds in the Maghreb States, Le Monde diplomatique, July
1989, p.13. [Freund Wolfang, La grande torture des esprits au Maghreb, Le Monde diplomatique, juillet,
1989, p.13]

       This harsh, short, fast and peremptory judgment is relevant. It raises one of the
most blatant paradoxes between the Maghreb and its composite identity. This relation is
almost full of hatred and destruction, indeed even suicidal.

        These death impulses are partially explained in relation to the language.
Theoretically, the young North African is bilingual. He was schooled and taught how to
read and write in both languages. Although he studied both Arabic and French, he does
not master either one according to the origin linguistic standards. This is not due to a
simple schooling failure. The version of these languages that is taught in school does not
match the adequate use of everyday life. Both French and Arabic are not practiced
outside the schooling, the university and the professional circles. At home and in the
streets people use the dialect, an Arabic dialect different from written Arabic, which
cannot be understood by a Middle East Arab.35

         The language cleavage becomes conflicting society projects, which are not in
accordance with the reality of societies. Francophile modernizers, supporters of the Arab-
Islamic “authenticity” and Amazigh speakers unite while delivering in their own ways a
reducing and simplistic speech, which does not mention the complex cultural
stratifications of the Maghreb civilization. A whole knowledge and expertise was,
therefore, on the fringe of time. We argue as if the Maghreb was nothing but an outpost
of the French-Latin civilization, or a permanent Mecca for Islam and Arabism, which
had, unfortunately, to suffer at some point of its modern history the French colonization.
The collective conscience is therefore always wrongly described in suitable political lines
that ignore its true nature. When a society puts back at the depths of its subconscious, for
reasons of instant political and ideological properties, real elements of its personality,
then its social and cultural equilibrium is affected.

5.2 The Centrality of Islam: The remediation of the Religious Reality
        Independence certainly ended the formal domination of the Europeans powers.
But all over the Maghreb the elites succeeded them and went further more in their will to
break with the pre-colonial heritage when compared with the regulatory authorities. The
elites‟ projects matched those conceived originally by the administrations of the old
colonization authority, which was vilified. Moreover, the projects were hastily shaped, a
typical action of an elite convinced of playing the role of the scout on the way to
progress. In a more or less expanded manner, and according to the equilibrium between
the different tendencies inside the nationalist movement in each of the three states, a new
conception of the society‟s future was born in the first years, which shrunk away the part
reserved for religion. The strong resistance of the religious main players slowed down the
adoption of measures that we could qualify as secular (i.e., the personal status code in
Tunisia, the nationalization of the Habous lands in Algeria, and the neutralization of
Qarawiyne in Morocco). Through the growth crisis that have known the different
regimes, one was able to dissociate two periods. During the first period the State


established Islam as its official religion as long as it confined itself to the civil society.
During the second period Islam was totally adopted by the State.36

Islam is a Simple Identity Marker

        Four years (1956-1960) were enough for Morocco to find its vocation. It found it
in a stable equilibrium between a Salafist interpretation of religion extolled by the leaders
of the nationalist movement, from all across the political spectrum, and a version of the
Makhzen, which safeguarded the role of the monarch as the protector of all players on the
religious scene, even those who were more or less involved with the protectorate. The
zeal of the Istiqlal to promote a unique version of Islam was in fact proven in a witch-
hunt conducted against brotherhoods and marabous. But very rapidly the King took
matters in his own hands to establish the hegemony of religion, of which he became the

         In Algeria, the triumph of Benbella‟s movement during the independence of
Algeria shed a new light on the hidden structures of the power of Islam. Deep under the
revolutionary concepts, the pregnance of Islam was still very strong. This would help
explain the eviction first of the Ferhat Abbas tendency and later on that of Mohamed
Harbi and of the NLF in France. The structure of the power that gradually established
itself called upon unanism. It resulted in the reinterpretation of the representation concept
seen as a consultation, which meant that it was attached to the traditional concept of
“shura”. Regardless of all that, it was time for the “Islamic secularity”.37 In fact, the
revolutionary legitimacy, strengthened by a liberation war, could allow overlooking the
religious identity (the third world dimension being historically more relevant). Moreover,
the government enjoined from the beginning to get rid of a cumbersome ally, in this case
the Association of the Reformist Ulemas. Between 1956 and 1962, the relation of most
members of the national movement with Islam wavered between the non-aggression (the
NLF status of 1958)38 and the explicit hostility. The NLF federation in France advocated
the separation of religion and State; whereas, the Algerian Communist Party (ACP) was a
believer in banishing all religion from all future political project. The pressures put by the
Ulemas (the 22d of August 1964)39 succeeded in shifting this tendency and in imposing a
status quo. We had to wait till 1964 for the State to lead an offensive campaign aiming at
weakening the independent “religious entrepreneurs” (i.e., the brotherhoods, the small
marabous and the Ibadit minority); whereas, the Ulemas imbued with Salafist values
members of the Reformist Ulemas Association were filling in jobs in the civil service.
The expropriation of the public and private properties of the Habous the first of
September was the climax of this operation led by the Algerian government aiming at the
adoption of one version of Islam adapted to a “Jacobin conception of Islam”.

   M. Tozy, “Islam and State in the Maghreb”, Maghreb-Machrek magazine, Nº 126, October-December,
1989, p.25-45. [M.Tozy, “Islam et Etat au Maghreb”, Revue Maghreb-Machrek, n°126,Octobre-décembre,
1989, p. 25-45]
   H. Sanson, Islamic Secularity in Algeria, Paris, CRESM, 1983. [H.Sanson, Laïcité islamique en Algérie,
Paris, CRESM, 1983]
   Ibid, p.91.
   Refer to the unabridged version in the Directory of North Africa, 1962, p.712. [voir le texte intégral dans
l‟Annuaire de l‟Afrique du nord, 1962, p.712]

        In Tunisia, the regime of Habib Bourguiba transformed the systematic critics of a
certain conception of Islam into a sign of modernity and efficiency. A series of very
daring measures were announced starting 1956; i.e., the abolition of “habous” (decrees of
the 31st of May 1956 and the 18th of July 1957), the reform of the personal status (13th of
August 1956 decree), the suspension of the courts of “chra‟” (decrees of the 29th of
March 1956 and the first of October 1958), and Bourguiba‟s questioning of the public
fast resorting to an almost provocative interpretation. The Youssefist opposition40 and the
support it benefited from many religious figures explained, in part, the fierceness the new
regime used to attack the Zitouna University, which were the symbol of a “bygone”
society and the breeding ground of a rival elite centered around few noble families. The
29th of March and the first of October 1958 decrees would finish the selling off of the
Zitouna. It would be transformed into a simple subsidiary of the University of Tunis.

         It is, however, important to note that the relation established between
Bourguibism and Islam41 was not as simple as maintained by the official historiography.
The regime was targeting the control of the religious initiative, more than the religion
itself; although history has only emphasized the verbal provocations of the Tunisian
president. Before and after independence Bourguiba did not hesitate to exploit Islam. We
will cite in this respect many examples particularly striking: his 8th of December 1958
speech, in which he blamed Ghomrassen inhabitants for not having a mosque, his
concern to endorse the Republic institution using the fetwa of few Ulemas, his
commitment to the solemn celebration of the Friday prayer, and finally the conversion of
his first wife to Islam after a marriage that lasted a little less than twenty years. The
events of Kairouan, the 17th of June 1961, would exert the government to be more
considerate of the feelings of the public opinion. It would also learn to avoid attacking the
religious front; knowing that once the Ulemas neutralized, nothing would stand in the
way of a reinterpretation of Islam according to the new regime needs.

Islam, A State Religion

        Chronologically, this period does not follow the secular attempts and the set up of
Islam in the private sphere.

       The effort of reinterpreting and exploiting religion had existed in embryo for a
long time. North African nationalist movements used the religious symbol to strengthen
opposition to the West. What was new was that after launching the institutional
construction of the State, the governing players had to acknowledge religion for two
reasons. On one hand, nationalist movements had integrated religion and according to the
people, excluding the elites, the nation was combined with Islam. On the other hand, the
construction of a centralized Nation-State required a mobilization effort and resulted in
the quest for unanism (wahda). It was impossible to conceive such ambitions outside the

    Charles Debbash, The Tunisian Republic, Paris, LGDJ, 1962, p.143. [Charles Debbash, La république
tunisienne, Paris, LGDJ, 1962, p.143.]
   Avadh Renachour, A Lost Islam, A Found Islam, Directory of North Africa (DNA), 1979, p.69. [Ayadh
Benachour, Islam perdu islam retrouvé, Annuaire de l‟Afrique du nord (AAN), 1979,p.69]

scope of Islamic values. We must, however, notice that between the early sixties and the
end of the seventies, we witnessed a transformation in the way we conceived the
importance of religion in the construction of a State. Islam was first exploited in view of
its identity value, knowing that it reflected the people‟s sense of belonging to a group, the
Muslim world. It had the minimum consequences on the interior politic. Islam became,
through many interpretations, a founding element of the political praxis. It is considered
as a source of power legitimacy, and of delegitimation of its political opponents.

         In Morocco42, the normalization processes of Islam in the institutional system of
the kingdom were numerous. These processes enclosed the legal corpus as well as a
political practice considering Islam as a legitimation method. A shallow analysis of the
many Moroccan constitutions, the personal status code or some clauses of the Right of
Property, the judicial organization and the qualifications of the whole representatives of
the law sector will convince us of the relative weight of the Malikite rite in the structure
of this system. On the other hand, the importance of religion in the characterization of the
political system and the central role played by the Sultan are direct results of the
reinterpretation of the theory of power in Islam. The project of the Sultan, who was
looking for a new and sterile religious legitimacy, combined with a certain expertise the
hagiographic, legal and theological registers. This quest of his was made in two
directions. The first one was political, by weakening the clerks and supporting the
religious pluralism. The second one was doctrinal, by monopolizing the religion
interpretation and making the descendant of the Prophet sacred. Rehabilitating the
“Bey‟a” (allegiance) and introducing it as a constituent element of the political power
allowed reducing the importance of the Positive Law and transforming it into a mere
institutional image of an historical legitimacy. Thus, Hassan II, the young monarch newly
enthroned as a result of a “bey‟a” in the early sixties, said, “The constitution that I have
built with my bare hands, that will be released in the whole kingdom, and that will be
submitted to my approval in twenty days, is first of all the renewal of a sacred pact,
which has always united the people and the King”. (Hassan II, December 1961)
According to political science, the sacredness in this regard is not comparable to a
religious object. It has a more elaborate sense. It stands in the hierarchy of standards and
political players. It has the capacity to represent a trans-historical symbol. It is referred to
when making and abolishing laws. It has supremacy and veneration. In both cases, it
imposes respect and submission, and it results in serious legal and political consequences.
The form of the regime has the same status as religion; it is an unquestionable matter.
The royal person is sacred and immune. He cannot be criticized nor represented in a
humorous manner (article 38 of the 15th of November 1958 Dahir, modified by the article
41 of the Dahir of the 10th of April 1973 law). The King‟s decisions are not questionable
in justice (Ronda decision of the Supreme Court in 1960), and they are considered as
superior to all State norms.

        In Algeria, the virulent denunciation of H. Boumedien‟s socialism made by Sheik
Soltani, the future Islamist hero of the eighties, in an article published in Morocco in

   M. Tozy, Monarchy and Political Islam in Morocco, The Press of the National Foundation of Political
Science, 1999. [M.Tozy, Monarchie et Islam politique au Maroc, Presse de la Fondation Nationale de
sciences politiques, 1999.]

197443, showed the difficulties that the Algerian government was encountering in order to
conciliate between Islam and socialism; although, leaders always defended the image of a
socialism that excluded class struggle and all explicit condemnation of private property.
One of the first obstacles encountered by the Boumidien‟s regime sprung from the land
reform of lands that belonged to religious brotherhoods (Oulad Sidi Cheikh). The
resulting difficulties could not be smoothed by a simple negative religious reference, as
was the case in the Alger charter, or by a cut-and-dried exegesis, which was Boumidien
well known for. We cite as example his intervention during the Islamic Conference of
Lahore, “I would not like to philosophize on Islam. […] Many eminent scholars have
already done that. […] I think that if a spiritual link exists between us, this link must be
realized and materialized. […] A people who is hungry does not need to listen to verses,
regardless of all the respect I hold for the Koran, which I have studied at the age of
ten…”44 From then on, an ideology enterprise became necessary. Its elaboration took two
main directions.

         First, rival clerks were eliminated. The operation was launched as a “witch hunt”
following the liberation war. This action targeted, in the beginning, the most popular
phenomena of Islam (the zaouias and the marabous). This action was sometimes led by
religious groups close to the government, as was the case with the al-Qiyam (the values)
association before it was outlawed in 1966, and then disbanded in 1970. The action target
was to ensure the State with a monopoly of the main religious corpus structure and its
interpretation. The State made, in this regard, two reforms. One had a relative and brief
success. It was an all-out arabicization politic that interested first the political elite then it
was expanded to the whole education system. The other was the creation of
administrative authorities in charge of the control and the thought given on religion. A
superior Islamic council was created by the 13th of February 1966 decree. Its role was to
issue “fetwas”, and to inform the government on derelictions of the Islamic law and its

        The National Charter came secondly in 1976 after ten years of pragmatic
government. It institutionalized somehow the relations of socialism and Islam. The
authors of this fundamental text (supra-constitutional) tried their best to prove the
absence of inconsistencies and even the complementary nature of these two sources of
legitimacy. This text went beyond making the laconic mentions already present in most
Muslim states‟ constitutions, namely “The Algerian people is a Muslim people”, or
“Islam is the State religion”. It proposed a theoretical scope and a reinterpretation of
history, which showed the possible “symbiosis” between religious and socialist values.
The Charter45 stipulated, “Islam is one of the most powerful ramparts against
depersonalization enterprises”. Islam, as well as socialism, can be grasped through a

     F. Burgat, “Islamism in the Maghreb States”, Modern Times, 3 rd Quarter, 1988, p.95. [F.Burgat,
“Islamisme au Maghreb”, Les temps modernes, 3ème trimestre, 1988, p. 95.]
   J. Leca and J.C. Vatin, Algeria‟s Politic, Institutions and Regime, The Press of the National Foundation of
Political Science, Paris, 1975, p.414. [J.Leca et J.C Vatin, L‟Algérie politique, institutions et régime, Presse
de la Fondation nationale de sciences politiques, Paris, 1975, p.414.]
    National Charter, Publication of the National Liberation Front, Printing House of the Popular Press of the
Army, 1976. [Charte Nationale, Publication du Front de libération nationale, imprimerie des presses
populaires de l‟armée, 1976.]

particular reinterpretation, which mostly has nothing to do with clerical conceptions and
establishes a state monopoly of the dogma interpretation. “In order to revive itself, the
Muslim world has only one solution, which is to overcome reformism and steer the
course of social revolution. […] Revolution fit well in the historical perspective of Islam.
In its well-understood essence, Islam is not tied to any particular interest or to any
specific clergy. […] The reconstruction of the Muslim thought must, in order to gain
credibility, refer to a wider enterprise, which is the total overhaul of society…”46

        In Tunisia, the first article of the Tunisian Constitution, which states that
“Tunisia‟s religion is Islam”, refers to an identity level more than to an Islamic political
practice. The expansion of religion in the city was, however, hampered by two restraints;
communism that always haunted the governing elite, and the pressure of part of the
deeply pietistic public opinion.

        The explicit questioning of Islam was never an option. Even the operations, which
were considered by observers47 as frontal attacks on religion, could be explained by a
reinterpretation that made use of religion more than it discarded it. When it came to the
fast of the Ramadan, H. Bourguiba made a real “ta‟wil” (hermeneutics) to justify his
campaign favoring the break of fast for economic reasons. “I urge the Tunisian people
with its Ulemas and sheikhs to make a reasoning effort on the aim of fast and why we
should be exempted from it. Everybody must be familiarized with the problems raised by
the sane interpretation of the divine law. If God has blessed men with intelligence, it is
because He wanted them to distinguish between good and evil”.48 This demonstration,
although demagogic, was at the heart of the Islamic value system. The assimilation and
analogy (qiyas) reasoning became a sort of struggle against underdevelopment (jihad),
which allowed the justification of exemption. “At a time when we fight misery, set
programs and plans to avoid underdevelopment, demand justifications from those who do
not produce enough, and limit the freedom of enterprises, this is a matter of life and
death. This is a time when the recovery of this Muslim nation depends on our relentless
work. I invite you to profit from an exemption clearly defined by a sane conception of
religious laws.” Boumedien adopted the same line in his speech in Lahore. Later on, the
Islamist challenge would urge the Maghreb leaders to react, through an overbid of the
respect of cult and through a politic of expropriation of religious speech production
places and its means of spreading. These regimes never turned down point-blank Islamist
claims by assuming a secular choice. Of course they were not ready to manage in the
same way and with the same efficiency this taking over of Islam, which became more
than a state religion. It became a religion of the State. They all resorted, however, to the
same recipe; acceleration of the training of religious personnel within the state scope,
control of mosques, and repression.

   H. Sonson, “Status of Islam in Algeria”, AAN, 1979, p.101. [H.Sonson, « Statut de l‟Islam en Algérie »,
AAN, 1979,p. 101.]
   A. Benachour, op. cit. 65.
   Habib Bourguiba, Speech of the 5th of February 1960.

6-The Political Transitions and the Requirements Management of Good
        The history of the Maghreb states shows many cultural and religious similarities,
which create the impression that they are interpreted with different intensities when it
comes to defining the political link. We will try to identify comparatively few current
changes in the Maghreb political system, in order to roughly shape their limits and
evaluate their chances of success. The historical and philosophical factors of changes,
which we have just roughly sketch the outline, in long terms will be linked to the present
reforms both on the institutional and political level; in order to define how the Maghreb
states negotiate the historical turning point of the economic liberalization and the pressure
exerted on them for a good governance.

       We will dwell on two matters that we consider important in order to delimit these
reformist paths both ambiguous and reversible; the political pacts that define the
democratic game rules and the principles that structure the political link, and the election
processes that should allow the choosing of governments and ensure their control.

6.1 The Political Pacts

        The political pact is defined by the authors of The Transition from Authoritarian
Rule series as an explicit agreement, although not always interpreted or justified in
public, between a definite group of players trying to define (or better to redefine) the
rules governing the exercise of power based on the mutual guarantee of each party‟s vital
interests. If we dwell on the situation in the Maghreb states based on this definition, we
conclude that very few countries succeeded in explicitly or implicitly defining this
political pact, which would result in an agreement on the political game rules able to lead
to democratization and to pacific methods of regulating differences. In all three states the
emergence and then the consolidation of Islamist movements played, with different
degrees and methods, the role of stimuli in order to give birth to a political pact, which
included part of the political class that adhered to nationalist movements, the leader
groups be it the army and the police in Algeria and Tunisia or the monarchy in Morocco
without including the whole political spectrum.

        When it came to Morocco, we were able to observe starting the nineties the birth
of a compromise and negotiation political culture in both union and political practices.
The negotiation modes struggled to make their way into many steps that resulted in
making the protagonists accept the monarchy as a hegemony player. They resulted in an
interpretation of constitution, which favored a rather unorthodox form of power
separation. This interpretation showed disequilibrium between the political players,
namely the monarchy and the national movement. The leaders of the political parties
were always placed in an applicant situation rather than being competitors or substitutes.
What was at stake was never the exercise of power, but a rather simple participation in
the public affairs management. Not once, did they have to play a direct part in the process
of technical conception of the constitutional text.

         The second war of Algeria, as it is presently named by some observers, had the
same characterizations of a civil war. At its peak, between 1994 and 1998, it was
considered as a political response to an unfavorable situation.49 Seen from many angles,
the civil war raised a paradox between the intense degree of violence, the creation of job
opportunities, particularly in the army, the great investments in hydrocarbons sector, and
the effervescence of the commercial sector (import/export).50 It affected the repositioning
of till then marginalized social groups, namely youngsters and peasants. The settlement
of the crisis became a vital requirement when the war had accomplished its main targets.

        These targets were both symbolic and sociological. Symbolically, they
reconstructed the historical memory and partially discarded the colonial period as an
identity constituent element. All manifestations of this game were at the heart of the
Arab-Islamic identity sphere. Sociologically, the war accelerated the rehabilitation and
fall process of a whole class emerging from the heart of the army, as well as from the
Islamist society and counter-society.

        The sharing with younger players51 was carried out in all sectors, first in the
political sector; even though, the political class gave the impression of a great status quo
at its summit. Then it was carried out in the economy sector by recycling the state
bureaucracy, when the racket of war diverted the attention from the national wealth
expropriation through the privatization or direct harnessing of the resources.

        The staff officers, who were always the main political players as quite rightly
pointed out by Houari Addi52, are from then on interested by a political and especially
economic fructification of the financial profit of this war. The ancient rift between the
two factions of eradicators and dialogists led the president Liamine Zeroual to resign and
provoked an early election. Therefore, it was in these controversial circumstances (the six
other candidates withdrew the night before the polling to protest against fraud) that M.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika, supported by part of the army (namely the dialogists and the
Military Security, the most powerful institution of the State) and by the National
Liberation Front (NLF), was elected president on the 15th of April 1999. This election,
confirmed few months later by a plebiscite, initiated a political pact, which main
principles were in part written within the scope of Saint Egidio platform, which some
elements were included in the law on civil concord.53

    Luis Martinez, The Civil War in Algeria, Karthala, 1998, p.35. [Luis Martinez, La guerre civile en
Algérie, Karthala, 1998, p.35.]
    Luis Martinez, idem p.36.
    M. Tozy, The religious Revival in Africa, in Africa Now, Stephen Ellis Editions, Karthala, 1995, p.119.
[M.Tozy, Le renouveau religieux en Afrique, in l'Afrique maintenant (ed;Stephen Ellis), Karthala, 1995,
    Anna Bozzo, Islam and Civil Society, The case of Algeria, in Change, Governance and Crisis in the
Maghreb States, (Therry Desrues, Eduardo Muyano editions), Cordoba, Superior Council of Scientific
Inquiries, 1997, p.136. [Anna Bozzo, Islam y sociedad civil, El caso de Argelia, in in Cambio,
gobernabilidad y crisis en El Magreb(ed.Therry Desrues, Eduardo Muyano), Cordoba, éd.consejo superior
de investigaciones cientificas, 1997, p136.]

        In Tunisia, however much we insisted that the change of the 7th of November
occurred pacifically, without bloodshed, with respect of constitutional legality, and that
the adherence to this process was global, in fact, it was the work of both Islamists and left
wing intellectuals. In addition to that, the pact concluded upon within the Tunisian
political class was revised once the succession of Bourguiba was consummated. The first
measures were spectacular and foresaw a real opening up towards the construction of a
system more leaning to accept the society changes. But soon enough a great part of the
political class became disillusioned, and took the road of exile or prisons.54 The abolition
of the life presidency and the State Security Court, the liberation of hundreds of political
prisoners, mostly Islamists, and the negotiations with long time ignored and sometimes
humiliated political opponents, in fact rapidly led to the creation of a favorable climate.
Figures from the opposition and the union movement or even the Tunisian League of
Human Rights (TLHR) took a step forward and launched a movement to be closer to the
new government. Many left activists united with the governing party, which was renamed
by M Ben Ali Democratic Constitutional Assembly (DCA) starting 1988.

        Other measures, such as the adherence to the Torture International Convention,
the inauguration in Tunis of a branch of Amnesty International, the first in the Arab
world, and the recognition of the first independent women association, the Tunisian
Association of Democrat Women, were often accompanied by a very pedagogical speech
on the Constitutional State and democratic change. It seemed as if the president was
taking the measurements of his future opponents. During the “Salvation” Conference,
which was held from the 29th till the 30th of July 1988, the president took over the very
efficient apparatus of Bourguiba‟s party. The coup d‟état companions were all
marginalized from the commands. The president cast the net wide in order to renew the
political class, by using the institutions that he best knew, i.e., the police and if need was
the army.

        The party was still the breeding ground and the driving belt of the Tunisian
inland. It was through the party that were run the allocations of both political and
economic resources. It was also the party that managed the belts of mediation and was in
charge of the redistribution of the growth fruits. This reconquest of the political field was
accompanied by the redefining of the revival pact. It started by clearing the Islamist
trend, which was outlawed after its indirect participation in the first elections. This new
pact, imposed by the regime, criminalized the political activity. And as Michel Camau55
and Catherine Simon mentioned, “Politic would not be a reasonable activity when it
comes to the benefits of prosperity and security. The society will leave it to the public
authorities to control and regulate its conflicts within the scope of a security pact that
namely guarantees the enjoyment of the fruits of work and trade as well as the quiet of
domestic life.”56

   Nicolas Beau and Jean Pierre Tuquoi, Our Friend Ben Ali, Paris, La Decouverte, 1999. [Nicolas Beau et
Jean Pierre Tuquoi, Notre ami Ben Ali, Paris, La découverte, 1999.]
   M. Camau, Maghreb/Machrek, Nº 157, July-September, 1997.
   Le Monde, the 24th of October 1999.

6.2 The “Pernicious” Reactivation of the Electoral Process

        Elections in North-African states, as in all under developed nations, do not fulfill
the same purposes as in the Western democracies. Competition is limited to controlled
entities, which exceptionally accede to real power. Elections only allow a certain
circulation of elites by supporting cooptation processes defined by the political class, or a
plebiscite election of men or projects without any real choice.

        Election results are often separable from the process itself. Votes are only taken
into consideration as one of many indicators. The polling day is a brief phase in the
political life, which interests observers because of the relative freedom of its role-play. It
cannot, however, be considered as a democratization indicator. Tribune performances not
only allow to consolidate theatrical effects, but also to present protagonists, and to
indicate the hypothetical progress of the rival political project in order to seduce the
“monarch”, the real holder of power.

        In Morocco, R. Leveau talks about a reform. The 1974, 1997 and 2002 elections
allowed a partial class reconstitution, an elite renewal in parties traditionally linked to the
Makhzen, and integration through a political changeover of the ancient Makhzen
opposition. We must look further back to 1989 to define the origins of the election
process, which led to the painful birth of a change government, in 1997. It was the direct
consequence of a referendum, which soon turned into a plebiscite. At the end of the
plebiscite, the King asked for the prorogation of the members of parliament mandate to
get the term to coincide with the consultation planned by the UN to settle the Sahara

        This referendum, which reached banana republic approvals votes of 99,83 and
99,89, would be the first of a long series of referendums in the last decade. Two
constitutional referendums and two legislative elections led to a reconfiguration of the
political system.

        In 1991, the King hosted the opposition parties‟ leaders, who offered him a
memorandum demanding a constitutional review. This petition was not met until 1991
during the vote of acceptance of the fifth Moroccan constitution. In 1993, parties born
from the national movement united in the “koutla” won over 33% of the two third of the
parliament in the direct election. This victory was reduced to more controllable
proportions during the indirect ballot, which elected the remaining third of the
parliament. The opposition denounced therefore the massive use of money, and refused to
enter in the game of political changeover. A. Youssoufi left the country. The King,
helpless, publicly regrets losing this opportunity of a political revival. Starting the early
months of the year 1996, a stabilization campaign inaugurated a taking over politic of
financial circles, claiming the necessity to raise the moral standards of the political life.

        It was in these circumstances that a sort of electoral marathon, which benefited
from foreign logistics57, took place. Community, municipality and legislative elections
created a dispersed political map. The Socialist Union of the People‟s Force was the first
party, though it was not ensured the right to govern without the help of the palace. The
Interior Ministry even officially acknowledged the massive use of money. It also
published a document listing hundreds of candidates linked to the circle of drugs, and
declared them ineligible by an administrative decision, starting the 1993 elections. The
only new nuance during the 1997 elections was that both right and left wings resorted to
money use. Each wing had its own black sheep. The elections played many roles in the
shaping of a settled political map, without, however, confirming the potential causality
between the will of electors and the identity of the elected. Even in cases where the
candidates could have done without the help of authorities, the latter did not hesitate to
intervene in order to give the impression of a general deterioration.

        The 27th of September 2002 Moroccan legislative elections must have been in
many respects “a first”. They were the first elections to take place after the July 1999
dynastic succession between Hassan II and Mohamed VI. They were the first elections
organized by a left wing or a changeover government, led by an ancient opposition party,
the SUPF (the Socialist Union of the People‟s Force). Finally, they were, and that is
without a doubt the most important thing, the first elections since 1976, to take place
without the presence of Driss Basri, the famous Interior Minister of late Hassan II. It was
in fact Basri who made out of the controlled management of elections not only one of his
first concerns, but also one of the keystones of the Moroccan system. In complicity with
the political class, this election control was the main conveyor of the delegitimation
process of the election game. To succeed, he gradually refined his vote rigging methods
from ballot boxes filling and electoral rolls rigging, in the seventies, to more subtle ones,
such as the bringing up of local elites.

        The king as well as the government asserted many times that these elections must
be transparent. This line of talk did not dissipate the voters‟ skepticism; therefore, they
did not answer the call of medias favoring the participation. The turnout at the polls did
not exceed 52%. The political game is today largely determined by the Islamist presence
(the Justice and Development Party is already present at the Parliament with 14 members;
the Movement for the Community, the Civilizational Alternative and particularly
Yacine‟s movement, Justice and Charity, do not participate to the ballot, they, however,
substantially weigh on it by their abstention (15% of ballot papers are null and void)).
Among the political parties, only Islamists are present on the social ground in addition to
associations, foundations and public initiatives. It is thus logical that they seek to convert
these assets (visibility of their actions, their closeness to the people and their availability)
into seats.

  Zakyia Daoud, “The 1979 Elections in Morocco”, Maghreb/Machrek, Nº 158, October/December, 1997,
p.105. [Zakyia Daoud, "Maroc les élections de 1979", Maghreb-Machrek, N°158, Octobre/décembre 1997,

        Although wanted as exemplary, the elections did not honor their promises;
nevertheless, the ballot globally went off peacefully. The incidents were rare and local.
The goose note came on after the late announcement of the results. Voters had to wait 48
hours after the closing of the polling stations for the official results of local rolls, i.e., 295
seats out of 325 in all. The results of the national female roll (30 seats) were published
much later. The official explanations did not dissipate doubts on the transparency of these
elections. One was under the impression that the government that tried to influence the
results using beforehand laid out technical means (ballot method, candidacy, division into
constituencies), was surprised by the first results, which gave a landslide victory to
Islamists, thus explaining the shambles of the election night.

        The Tunisian election system is characterized since independence as a system that
should serve the national unanimity. The explicit intensions to introduce pluralism
clashed with the initial ideology; therefore, making the success of this project impossible
even on a formal level. In other words, resistance was so strong that even an apparent
pluralism had trouble to emerge. The system faced practical issues in letting the
opposition, which there were no doubts about its allegiance to the regime, express itself.
Moreover, the regime felt the need to protect itself against a hypothetical risk to resort to
the election law, which caused every evolution to fail. The margin of the ballot influence
was completely reduced. The representation of the opposition must be, in order to
succeed, officially decreed. The first elections during Benali‟s mandate, which cost the
Islamist movement dearly, illustrated this state of mind (the candidacy supported by the
Islamic Trend Movement (Ennahda), which was not legalized, obtained 13,67% and even
25% in certain luxurious districts of Tunis). The government considered this to be a great
danger, which explained the conduct of a witch-hunt. The election code governing the 3rd
of May 1990 elections showed how much the regime had trouble exploiting an opposition
traumatized by a possible system reversal. The adopted ballot was a combination between
an election on a list majority basis and proportional representation. The majority roll
obtained 50% of the seats. The rest was proportionally distributed among the remaining
parties including the majority party.

       Parties that have less than 5% of the votes are eliminated. To better explain this
singular election system, let us take the example of a district in the region of Soussa,
analyzed by B.G. Lopez.58
*The valid votes were 94500, and the seats to fill were 40
*60000 votes for the Democratic Constitutional Assembly (DCA) equivalent to 63,49%
*3900 votes for the Movement of Democratic Socialists (MDS) equivalent to 4,12%
*3600 votes for the People‟s Unity Party (PUP) equivalent to 3,9%
*27000 votes for the independents equivalent to 28,57%
*The DCA list automatically obtained 20 seats (50%)

  B.G. Lopez, Elections Laws, Legal Excuses, Maghreb Legislation in Times of Pluralism, in Elections,
Participation and Political Transitions in North Africa, Madrid, Spanish Agency of International
Cooperation, 1991, p.243. [B.G lopez, leyes electorales, artimanas legales, legislacion maghrebi a la hora
del pluripartismo, in elecciones, patricipacion y transiciones politicas en el norte de Africa, Madrid, agencia
espanola de cooperacion internacional, 1991, p.243]

*The rest was proportionally divided up among the lists that had more than 5% of the
*Therefore, DCA had 33 seats equivalent to 82,5%, the independents had 7 seats
equivalent to 11,5% and the remaining seats went to MDS and PUP.

        Tunisians were not concerned overmuch about the 24th of October 1999
presidential and legislative elections, taking aside the fever maintained by the foreign
press that wanted to transform these elections into a real event of mobilization against
authoritarianism. We ask ourselves if it was a real or apparent indifference. In the
national medias anyways these two events did not arouse heated debates. Even tribune
functions, which constituted the minimum of elections, were not met. It was true that the
apparent good health of the government party, the Democratic Constitutional Assembly
(DCA), which celebrated in 1999 early summer its tenth anniversary59, contrasted with
the almost lethargy of the opposition. When it came to the streets, the absence of real
stakes did not mobilize them, and that is putting it mildly. This lack of interest among the
citizens, regarding the political life, worried the government as much as intellectuals.
This, however, showed more realism than indifference or apathy. Tunisians were
conscious that nothing was at stake in these elections, and it was better to bark in Algeria
than to enjoy the soft comfort of a protector and authoritarian regime, as this funny story
whispered among people showed it.

        The trouble that the president had gone through to “hunt down” a presentable
opponent showed, if need was, and on the contrary, not the efficiency of the regime but
its incapacity to get to the end of what we might name, with hope, passive resistance.

        Unlike Tunisia‟s and Morocco‟s elections characterized by their concern to be
open; although, controlled by a real election engineering on both institutional and vote
rigging level (filling of ballot boxes and division into constituencies), Algeria can a priori
offer an example of the element of surprise, just like during the first 1990 pluralist
consultation. The Islamist movement as mentioned by Abdenacer Jabi60 had been able to
meet the great demand of the Algerian city through its moralistic speech. It was therefore
able to control 93,6 of the town councils of the cities of more than 50000 inhabitants,
during the 1990 elections. As a result, the emergence of an uncontrollable Islamist force
led to the brusque suspension of the December 1991 elections. It also was the cause of
many casualties. The 1997 elections had more similarities to the election processes of the
other North African regimes, whose specific characteristics laid in a total dissociation
between the voting and its political consequences. In this political configuration, regimes
insisted a lot on the institutional initiation system as well as the supervision process. The
97-08 organic law of the 6th of March 1997, concerning the political parties, prohibited
the use of all designations and programs making a reference to the religious, regionalistic
or ethnic values. It also stipulated the transition from the two round uninominal system to
the proportional list representation, in order to avoid the increase of heavyweight parties‟
results. Regimes stressed as well on the accentuation of the election code of ethic

 J.A., Nº 1960, the 4th of August 1998.
 Abdenacer Jabi, al intikhabat ad-dawla wa al mûjtama‟ (The Elections, the State and the Society), Alger,
Dar al kasba, 1998, p.85.

normalization; i.e., code of good behavior, corruption denunciation, sublimation and
dramatization of the election campaign.

        The 5th of June 1997 legislative elections took place in particular circumstances,
which were the prelude to a solution to the crisis (the civil war). They also fell within the
scope of an institutionalization project ex post of the delegitimation line of the armed
insurrection. It was, therefore, absolutely essential to make the whole political spectrum
adhere to this process. Thanks to several bilateral and multilateral meetings 61 the whole
political grouping including the 1995 Rome platform signatories decided to participate to
this process.

        Despite being controlled, the legislative elections constituted an important stake.
They allowed the determination of the political heavyweights of all different protagonists.
Although everybody challenged the election results, they still are a political
creditworthiness indicator. They allowed, as mentioned by Djerbal 62, the emergence of
new forces. Although they used “archaic and retrograde elements, they gave a more or
less correct image of the political expressions that were adapted to the social and political
complexity of Algeria”.

  Dahou Djerbal, The 5th of June 1997 Elections in Algeria, Stakes and Results, Maghreb/Machrek, Nº157,
1997, p.85. [Dahou Djerbal, Algérie: les élections législatives du 5 juin 1997, Enjeux et résultats, Maghreb-Machrek,
n°157, 1997. p.151.]
     Idem p.161.

        North African societies are craving for change, which is very obvious in Algeria
as well as in Morocco.63 This change was discernible in Algeria in the spring of 1999.
The presidential election campaign initiated a heated debate on the state of the society
and the future of the country, a little less than forty years after its independence. The
“civil concord” referendum, in the autumn of 1999, extended this questioning of a whole
people, and foresaw a solution to the crisis. The long waiting of the Algerian people
would be deceiving. The assassination of A. Hachani, in November 1999, the trouble
gone through to bring the civil concord law to conclusion, and the incapacity to deal with
the Berber Spring largely hampered this process. The president Bouteflika‟s repeated
about-turns and his incapacity to prove his emancipation towards the army discredited his
talents of orator and his outspokenness. The man around whom hope crystallized stood
out with his unmethodical activism and his tendency to mistaken firmness and
authoritarianism. His decision to prohibit the access of the opposition to the public
medias, his repeated attacks against intellectuals and journalists wore down the
creditworthiness bequeathed to him by the referendum plebiscite on the civic concord

        In neighboring Morocco, the brusque death of Hassan II, in July 1999, also
allowed to measure the feverish hope of a whole kingdom. The months that followed the
enthroning of the new King did not witness any disruptions. The contrary would have
been surprising. The signs showing gradual detachment from the father‟s legacy were
almost indiscernible. The young King presented himself to his people during the first
Friday prayer in a coach then on horseback. He had scrupulously followed the route his
father took 38 years ago. The mourning period was only disrupted by few decisions with
limited symbolism. The King‟s reign was a continuity; nevertheless, he insisted on being
the King of the poor. The great void in certain sectors created by the death of Hassan II
craved for enlightened despotism. The opinion makers‟ comments (journalist and
politicians), whether they were right or left wing proponents, betrayed a fear of political
void. The political class apprehended with strange anxiety a hypothetical lack of dignity
(haiba). This reverent fear was considered to be the backbone of the monarchic
government. The unpublished discussion of the status of monarchy in the political
system, or the pertinence of a Spanish like evolution fizzled out. The paradigm of a
divine right monarchy was neither contested nor challenged. On the contrary the different
positions appeared to agree on reinforcing the royal prerogatives. The King was
considered by all to be the initiator of all reform projects. These theses were almost
agreed upon by all players including those who participated in the government and those
who were the driving force of the civil society, initiators of all political renewal projects.
Islamists as well did agree on these theses. These positions supported the new King
giving in to the temptation of taking the responsibility for the reform process.

      As for Tunisia, the constitutional reform on the president eligibility for a forth
mandate, and particularly the 24th of October 1999 elections confirmed the authority
 Jean-Pierre Tuquoi, “Morocco is changing, Algeria is waiting”, (Le Maroc change, l'Algérie attend). Le
Monde, the 26th of November 1999.

abuse of the system and its incapacity to deal with the economic performances of the
country. The promise of opening and pluralism considered as a first in the independent
Tunisia was a joke. The 63-year-old president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was reelected in
the first ballot for a third, and theoretically final mandate of five years. That was before
the constitutional referendum that decided otherwise with 99,44% of the votes, equivalent
to 3 269 000 votes out of 3 287 000. Participation reached 91,4%. The height of contempt
was that the president‟s two rival only got crumbs. 0,31% of the votes went to the 65-
year-old Mohamed Belhaj, leader of the People‟s Unity Party (PUP), and 0,23% to the
56-year-old Abderrahmane Tlili, leader of the Democratic Unionist Union (DUU). The
president gained more votes than during the last consultation, when he was the unique
candidate. In fact during the last presidential election, in 1994, president Ben Ali won
over 99,91% of the votes. The results of the legislative elections, held on the same day,
were similar. “Ballots” gave the Democratic Constitutional Assembly (DCA), headed by
the president more than 91,59% of the votes, equivalent to 148 seats out of 182 in the
unicameral parliament. Election law big shots created a new concept, i.e., the reserved
20% percentage, regardless of the real result. These complicated procedures only allowed
to give 34 seats to the opposition, which was comprised of four parties.64 The 2002
constitutional reform allowing the president to benefit from a forth mandate, which is
equivalent to a life presidency, limits the margin for hope.

   Thirteen seats were given to the Movement of Democratic Socialists (MDS), seven to the PUP, seven to
the DUU, five to the Attajdid party (the former communist party) and two to the Liberal Social Party. The
turnout at the legislative polls reached 91,51%.


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