Berbers in the Algerian Political Elite.

by William B. Quandt

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Despite the existence of a sizable Berber minority, Algeria has avoided the severe conflicts in ethnic particularism that often mar political life in newly independent countries. Among reasons cited for the absence of a strong separatist orientation among Berbers: the existence of several distinctive Berber subcultures rather than one; geographical dispersion; the failure of a cohesive Kabyle or Shawiya leadership bloc to emerge during the early days of independence; and, finally, even-handed treatment under the Boumedienne government, including a representative share in ministry posts, and, in particular, the Boumedienne government's effort to attack fundamental social and economic problems in former Berber strongholds. In sum, while the potential for ethnic politics exists, ethnic background has been--and is still--a minor source of friction within the Algerian political elite. 29 pp.

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