Here is a set of lists of what I believe to be the three best political and economic decisions/reforms, and the three worst of both, in Algeria since President Bouteflika came to power in 1999 (so far).
Top Three Political Decisions
1) The declaration by president Bouteflika that the "era of revolutionary legitimacy" is over (in a speech to the Congress of War Veterans on December 1, 2004). Though somewhat abstract, this has numerous potential benefits. Firstly, it emphasizes official support for meritocracy in government. Since independence, most government jobs have been allocated on the basis of two things; 1) an individual's connections to and/or participation in the Revolution of November 1 (Was he/she a mujahadid? Was their husband? Was their father? etc.) and 2) how willing the state was to expand its bureaucracy for the sake of creating jobs. This was unsaid but widely understood by most. If one looks at most of the government ministers and those who were given managerial positions in government corporations, it is clear that the mujahadine were well placed and taken care of. They were given other privileges that ordinary Algerians were not, for example, they were allowed to import new cars and other luxuries that non-mujahadine could only dream of. This situation was perpetuated by the state and allegations of the corruption that it caused were muffled. Now, there is at least official support for merit based appointments and nominations, not simply who was in whose brigade during what stage of the Revolution.
That situation also left the younger people (who were too young to have participated in the Revolution) out of the game, as older people were placed on high and created a road block to progress (for the youth). Bouteflika's declaration that this period is over is not just philosophical (in the sense that now the Revolution has ended and we can now get on with our lives), but it also ushers in the new generation of Algerians born in post-Revolutionary Algeria who must be brought into the life of their country. It is similar to John F. Kennedy's speech where he declared that it was the time for a new generation of Americans, "born in this century" to lead their nation forward (he was of course talking about the twentieth-century).
It also debases the Islamist claims to power. One of the main reasons that the FIS believed itself to be more fit to run Algeria than the FLN was that it supposedly had a more "authentic" vision of the Revolution, rooted in Islam. Abbasi Madani was a revolutionary, as were numerous other FIS chiefs. Since the FLN had always ruled because "the Revolution willed it," if a challenger rose he would have to show that his legitimacy was superior in Revolutionary terms. The state's reason for being was the Revolution not 10 years ago, and if the FIS had their way it would have been Islam that justified the state's existence. However, Bouteflika's declaration made the will of the Algerian people the state's reason for being and, consequently, did two other things. First was that he established a social contract for Algerians which previously did not really exist, outside of a few circles (the state was not in the people's service, it was in the Revolution's service). Second was that he essentially gave his support to a pluralistic Algeria, because if Algeria operated on a system of Revolutionary legitimacy only the FLN would be able to rule, and the one party state would be justified.
Another thing that this did was that it de-emphasized the military's claims to a right to meddle in government and civilian affairs. For many years, most of Algeria's independent history as a matter of fact, the military ruled by default and forced its will on the legislature and people. Only one Algerian president has been a civilian thus far (Bouteflika, though he came into power with the military's backing), and the reason for this has mostly been that the military secured Algerian independence and thus knows best how to safeguard the Revolution (i.e. the state and all that is related to it) from a "deviant path." This basically delegitimizes a military dictatorship. (Also here, I would add the fact that he sacked many of the military hardliners that had backed his bid for the presidency, like Mohammed Lamari, former head of the Army retired and the new Army head, Salah Gaïd, all of whose top choices for his own replacement as head of the Land Forces were forced to retire and many of the military commanders for the major military districts were rearranged. Lamari was a major éradicator during the Civil War while Gaïd is considered to be mostly apolitical in this sense. The hardliners that had put Boutef in office have mostly become sideliners.)
Lastly, since the government had operated for many years on a "Revolutionary" basis, it took socialism to be a matter of doctrine. Socialism was part of the Revolution's platform (especially that of the FLN) and was declared to be the rule of the state in the Constitution until all references to socialism and the FLN were removed from the Constitution in the 1980's and 1990's. By declaring that the Revolution is no longer the source of the state's legitimacy, Bouteflika has basically said that Algeria can experiment with different economic philosophies.
2) The rebuilding of Algeria's international prestige and the creation of new partnerships and alliances abroad. Bouteflika has rebuilt Algerian relations with Africa, the Arab world, Asia, Iran, the United States, Europe and other countries by reaching out and making smart diplomatic moves. Seeing as he was the Algerian Foreign Minister under Boumediene, it is only logically that he would excel at this task. Since Bouteflika has been president and ended the major parts of the Islamist conflict, Algeria has held the presidency of the African Union, the Arab League and has made many diplomatic breakthroughs, bringing Algeria back as a world leader in African and Southern geo-politics. Algeria has been able to become associated with NATO in the Mediterranean (strengthening the Navy), and participated in US efforts to fight terrorism in the Sahel, while at the same time maintaining its old friendships with countries like Russia, Romania, the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. He has taken a truely "Third World" approach to foreign policy, not affiliating himself with radical regimes or becoming a client regime. His pragmatic approach is really in Algeria's best interest. Not to mention that it has encouraged investment and aid from Japan, the US, Belgium (the first international franchise in Algeria recently opened, a Belgian fast-food chain called "Quick"), and even Iran. His foreign policy has allowed Algeria to break free from the confines of traditional Arab foreign policy, which is seldom independent (usually Arab states act as clients to a foreign Western or regional power, for instance the way Syria is subordinate to Iran or Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf to the United States, or the way Syria, Egypt and Algeria were once subordinate to the USSR, as were many "Third World" states).
3) The first amnesty. The first Bouteflika amnesty ended the Algerian Civil War which is very commendable. Attacks have decreased and life has gotten easier and back to "normal" for the most part. Reconciliation is a wonderful idea, and it allows for progress to be made in the improvement of everyday life. The first amnesty was great; the second not so great. The second one just pardoned criminals and didn't really establish any basis for healing or justice. It let's the security forces off scott free, the Islamist militants, about 2,000, off scott free, and does not force them to make amends. I would have prefered a more South African or Norther Ireland sort of reconciliation, rather than this fake reconciliation.
Top Three Economic Decisions
1) Ending the state monopoly on the energy industry (SONATRACH). SONATRACH was huge, largely inefficient and corrupt. Sure, it provided jobs, but it didn't perform as well as it should have. Opening up the industry to competition will allow for more growth, though I would prefer some regulation to see that Algerian benefit from the gas.
2) The proposed privitization of about 1300 state owned industries. Again, this breaks of state monopolies on drugs, agriculture, health services, construction and the like. This will make more competition and hopefully, more innovation and progress in the economy. Already about 130 have been bought by Algerians and foreigners alike and more are being sold off as I write this. This is important to Algeria's structural reform because it takes apart the old statist/socialist system that for some many years refused to work.
3) The general reform minded condition that has attracted foreign investors and banks to Algeria. A new airport in Algiers is being built and the first ever metro in Algiers is due to open soon. In addition, there are other transportation related projects underway which is wonderful, and more and more foreigners are training Algerians and establishing offices there.
The Three Worst Political and Economic Decisions
1) The second amnesty, for reasons mentioned above.
2) The slow pace of privitization and general reform. A lot of the promises, for instance the creation of new housing units, have not been met and the government has not been able to effectively deal with urban decay and has refused to seriously take on the matter. This has caused riots and unrest in many quarters.
3) The poor handling of dissent. Firstly in 2001 there was the uprising in Kabylia, mostly of neglect and a lack of housing units. The revolt was viewed by many foreigners (especially in France and on the BBC) as being "cultural" in nature, with the Kabyles rising up for language recognition. This was also the perception in much of Algeria. This was not so much the case however as most of the rioters expressed no phiolosophy or ethnic montra and were mainly rioting because they had no legal means of expressing themselves (that would be heard at least) and their frustration with poverty and the impunity of the police. The riots started after a young man named Massinisa Guermah was killed in police custody. The protests soon became protests over the lack of jobs, food and housing in the region. What was the government's response? Brute force, just like in 1963, just like in 1980, just like in 1988. Bouteflika would not (or could not) break from the cycle of state violence against Algerian citizens for whatever reason. This has just further alienated many in Kabylia and has not helped to bring the country together. In addition to this, the legislature passed laws that make it illegal to criticize the president, the military and law makers, in vague language. This makes it very easy for journalists to be locked up and held without cause, for printing offensive articles or cartoons (as we recently saw).