FFS (Socialist Forces Front)
The FFS, an Algerian political party founded in 1963, was banned until 1990. Its founder, Hocine Aït Ahmed, is an historical leader in the national struggle for liberation which, since independence in 1962, has opposed the single party system. Arrested, condemned to death and then pardoned, he lived in exile until December 1989. He left Algeria at the end of 1992 for security reasons.
Participating for the first time in parliamentary elections, the FFS became the third most important political party during the December 1991 elections – after the FIS and the FLN, the former single party – and the leading party in the Berber regions. Its relative success is partially explained by its demands for a multilingual Algerian society where Berber and French would be recognised alongside Arabic.
Strongly condemning the interruption of the electoral process in January 1992 and the setting up of institutions controlled by the army, the FFS has always called for the re-establishment of the democratic process (it supports the principle of a proportional representation voting system which would bring the FIS back to its true electoral proportions).
Despite its deeply secular convictions, the FFS favours dialogue with the moderate wing of the FIS. Meeting in Sant’Egidio in January 1995 with the main opposition parties (including the FIS), it was co-signatory to the « National Contract » document condemning violence as a means of political action, calling for real negotiations with the governing power, setting up institutions open to the opposition before holding elections and re-establishing the FIS. Hocine Aït-Ahmed is also one of the personalities who launched in November 1996 the « Appeal for Peace » – an open letter calling for a halt to all violence and condemning the government’s authoritarian policy – which has collected several thousand signatures to date.
The FFS rejected the constitutional change of November 1996. It is directly concerned by the February 1997 law on political parties based on the new constitution. This law proscribes the use by the parties of « the components of the national identity » – Islam, Arab, Berber -, prohibits parties from becoming members of international organisations (the FFS is a member of the Socialist International) and from involvement in associative movements (which are the base of the FFS). In spite of these restrictions, the FFS participated in the parliamentary elections of 5 June 1997 (see Algeria, Elections and Parliament).
Hocine Aït Ahmed is one of the seven candidates allowed by the Constitutional Council to run for the presidential elections of 15 April 1999.
A supporter of the participation of the whole of civil society (political parties, associative movements, trade unions, intellectuals,…) in the Algerian recovery, the FFS appears to be the leader of secular opposition in Algeria.