The political core of this establishment (as distinct from the shadowy military/security core ultimately controlling it) consists of three parties, all supporting the same president: the flag-waving FLN, which used to be the only party during the socialist period; the more or less ideology-free RND, created to supplement the FLN; and (a distant and opportunistic third) the Islamist HMS/MSP. A wide variety of smaller, more independent officially recognised parties are variously courted or marginalised; the most important of these are the long-standing socialist FFS and the secularist RCD, together dominant in Kabylie; the Islamist Justice Party; and the Trotskyist Workers' Party. Parties without official recognition are excluded and as far as possible silenced. Of the parties previously mentioned, the FFS, RCD, and Workers' Party have included Tamazight on their election posters for decades, while the rest have gradually moved from reflexive opposition (in the name of national unity and the importance of Arabic) to more or less grudging acceptance. Their change of position is primarily a reaction to periodic Kabyle protests ever since 1980, but the Arab Spring also helped, insofar as it made much of the establishment want to put a little more distance between Algeria and the Arab world.
The FLN's secretary-general, Amar Saïdani, patted himself on the back for the amendment, claiming that "The FLN was the first party in government to demand the officialisation of Tamazight". The word "appropriation" comes to mind. The RND's Ahmed Ouyahia had more sociolinguistically interesting things to say (and said them in Kabyle); he's very clear on the idea of creating a standard Tamazight distinct from what people of any one region speak:
Ar ass-a, mazal kull jiha tesseɣṛay Tamaziɣt s elluɣa-s [...] maci s Tmaziɣt a-m hedṛeɣ-d s Teqbaylit. Gma acawi ad yefhem balak xemsin f-elmya. Ma aṭas. Gma si Lhugaṛ kif-kif, balak xemsa u ɛacrin f-elmya. Ilaq ad nexleq lluɣa-yagi n Tmaziɣt.And he backhandedly acknowledges that the task of Tamazight language planning has largely been tackled by people way outside the establishment:
Up to today, each region still teaches Tamazight in its own language [...] I'm speaking to you in Kabyle, not in Tamazight. A Chaoui brother will understand maybe 50%, at most. A brother from the Hoggar likewise, maybe 25%. We need to create this Tamazight language.
Lḥaja d nniḍen, Ṛṛayes Butefliqa yefka-d liqtiṛaḥ-agi, isaṛeḥ-d d atmaten-is. Ur-d iṛuḥ ara s tkellaxt. A-k neqqaṛ di lluɣa n tmaziɣt, tikerkasin. Tagi- tagi ḥefḍeɣ-tt seg laɛṛuc.The president of the "establishment" Islamist party HMS/MSP, Abderrezak Mokri, responded by urging unity around both languages in the face of a common threat:
Another thing, President Bouteflika made this suggestion acting frankly with his brothers. He didn't do it as a trick - or, as we say in the Tamazight language, tikerkasin (lies). That (neologism) I learned from the Arouch movement.
The language that's contesting Arabic in its own home is French, and the language that's making Tamazight disappear from its homelands is French. Arabic and Tamazight are sisters that have been living together and nourishing one another for centuries. The language that is dominating administration, and that officials are speaking in in official meetings, is French, and that is the language being mouthed by idle Westernizing misguided people in our country, for speaking between themselves or even with their sons and spouses. By God than whom there is no other god, were it not for Islam, we would be like Benin or Senegal or Cote d'Ivoire, speaking various dialects and able to communicate with one another only through French. The time has come for both languages, Tamazight and Arabic, to ally with one another, as they did in the past, in order to expel colonisation and the language of colonisation from the strongholds of sovereignty that it still occupies.Abdallah Djaballah, of the more independent Islamist Justice Party, responded less enthusiastically:
[The draft Constitution] added the Tamazight issue, but neglected to address the characters that it should be written in - Arabic or Latin. This omission is deliberate and intended to serve those who call for it to be written in Latin characters. If that happens, then it would be extremely dangerous to the Arabic language, and will in practice empower French, making Tamazight a mere tool to serve the French language. That would be a major breach of the second most important principle governing Algerian society, and would call for a popular referendum.The FFS, Algeria's oldest serious opposition party, seems not to have commented on the proposal yet, distracted no doubt by the recent death of its widely respected leader, Hocine Ait Ahmed. Its principal officially recognised rival in Kabylie, the RCD, responded with a fine bit of what the French call "langue de bois":
The second point, the officialisation of the Amazigh language, finally consecrates many generations' struggle for a legitimate demand essential for the harmony and credibility of the parameters defining the framework that is to host our common destiny. One cannot speak of reconciliation as long as the first language of North Africa, used by millions of speakers, is ignored by the basic law of the country. Nevertheless, this advance remains to be turned into an effective practice putting the Amazigh dimension, language, culture, and history, back into public life. In this regard, the promulgation of the organic law and the terms in which it is formulated will require citizens' attention.