Fragility of state institutions and deficiency in public policies
Ammar Bouhouche, Professor[†]
University of Algiers (3)
It is a fact that every country has his institutions, legitimate authorities and universal suffrage. But the functions of stateinstitutions (executive, judiciary, and legislative) vary from onecountry to another. If citizens of developed countries enjoy the advantages of employment, peace, tranquility, stability and sufficient money, in addition to a good life, thanks to their strong or solid institutions and efficient use of their wealth and social justice, thedeveloping countries are suffering from the lack of consensuson public policies, absence of liberty and they are struggling forsurviving in bad economic conditions. Weak institutions inherited from former colonial powers are incapable to overcomepoverty violence and misery.
The questions needed to be raised here as problematic for this workshop are the following:
- Why national leaders of national states have proved to bepowerless and unable to meet the needs of their citizens and could not appease them?
- Are the revolts and demonstrations of 2011 in Tunisia,Libya andEgypt due to mismanagement of state affairs and unwillingnessof public officials to communicate with unemployed people andindifference to their demands?
- Are the bad conditions in North African countries, due to theproblems of the process of decision making and inability of leaders to create strong and intuitions to examine the demands of citizens?
- Does the total absence of separation of powers has resulted in the emergence of totalitarian regimes or one man show?
- Is the resentment and resort to violence due to the lack of accountability and abuses in the bureaucratic system and public services?
- Is the indifference to the demands of the people and thesearch for foreign support, obliged the citizens to use violencein order to listen to their grievances?
- Is the system of centralization the main cause for disastrouspolicies of each state in North Africa?
- Is the rule by decrees, the main obstacle for a radical change and improvement?
In short, the main problems of violence and the determination of citizens to get their share from the wealth of nations, stem from the imbalance process of decision making and institutional set up. It is obvious that there are deficiencies in the running of stateadministrative agencies in each country in NorthAfrica. The author of this paper for the workshop suggests that the method of running state institutions is the main cause for the dysfunction of state affairs.
It is a fact that public policies are directed from above by top officials or political parties and the masses, in the bottom, have no role to play or no participative process in decision making on public policies related to their interests.
Unlike the western models where there is communication and dialogue between above and below, the developing nations in North Africa and the political parties or leaders, do not have real programs and do not offer any real choice in public policies to their citizens. Furthermore, the question which bothers, the people in North Africa and makes them dislike or unhappy with the public policies are the lack of consensus on public policies.
In this sense, the unwillingness of the rulers to compromise and make deals with other political parties and share, with them, the perception of a common strategy in public policies, have created cleavages in society and animosity between elites.
In the judgment of the author of this draft, what is needed to be discussed in this workshop is the strange attitudes of top officials to avoid the nomination of qualified experts in top positions and prefer to nominate loyal individuals in prominent post officesof responsibility.
In theory, public policies are supposed to be examined and prepared by experts and skilled people in their fields of specialty and, then, to be submitted for political leaders for approval. Then, comes the second step of presenting the approved public policies to execute them byadministrators.
But, in reality,the experts and skilled people are excluded and have no role to play in policy making. It is bizarre in developing nations, that the administrators make the studies and executive public policies, and that is why the public policies are very shallow, because they are made and executed, at the same time, without profound studies and that’s why the public policies bring the most disastrous consequences for people.
The other topic which deserves to be discussed and clarified by experts, is the strange attitude and mentality of the people inside and outside the political system. It can be easily detected that the behavior of the people is abnormal and strange. Everybody claims honesty, integrity and loyalty to his vocation and administration, but in reality, everybody pursues the strategy of collecting money and more wealth and power, and the public interests or rendering services to citizens is the last worry in his mind.
In short, it is always a fact that civil servants search for their own personal interest and what to take from the state and never think of public interests!!As a result of this behavior, all the people do not trust each other and public institutions are weakened and discredited.
It goes without saying that the sources of anxiety and resort to violenceand force, take place in modern societies, because the people want to show to the individuals in power that they are unhappy with their management of public affairs. What is needed to be stressed here is the bizarre mentalities and negative attitudes of bureaucrats who pay lip services to public interests, but search for their own interests.
- Aggoune Lounis, La Colonie Française en Algérie: 200 ans d’inoubliable. Paris : Edition Demi-lune, 2010.
- Burnell, Peter and Randall, Vicky,Politics in Developing World. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Elbadawi, Ibrahim and Makdici, Samir. Democracy in the Arab World: Explaining Deficit. London: Dourtlege Press, 2011.
- Fawcett, Louise. International Relations of the Middle-East. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.
[*]A proposal to be presented to the workshop to be organized by “Le Centre des Etudes Maghrébines” in Tunisia, from February 8 to 10, 2015.