As this book goes to press, the news from Algeria and developments in the international oil market are especially noteworthy given the arguments I make about the challenge of stability following economic shocks. Throughout the work, I underscore the importance of agency for political outcomes, and I explore the ways in which agency and structure interact. To make sense of the Algerian experience, as well as that of other oil-exporting states, I affirm the need to recognize the autonomy of individual agents in politics. How then do recent events validate this position?
On the one hand, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, currently serving the end of his second term as president, has announced pending changes to the country's constitution. Having hinted, for some time, at wanting to abrogate the two-term limit of the presidency, Bouteflika is paving the way for his third term in office. What explains Bouteflika's bold decision and what does it suggest about the Algerian political economy? On the other hand, the price of oil, that had surged over the course of the past year to a record $140 per barrel in July (2008), has been falling rapidly, reaching less than $50 in recent weeks. What effect will this combination of forces have on political outcomes? Given these developments, in Algeria and in the international economy, what can we expect for the Algerian people in the months ahead?