This study reassesses the experience of political openness in Algeria within the analytical and explanatory categories of political economy. It is built on the premise that the transition from a totalitarian authoritarian regime to a democratic one presupposes the transition from a rentier economy linked to the external market and dominated by rentier groups, to a productive economy based on the national bourgeoisie exploitation of local labour to create wealth. The study argues that the experience of democratic transition in Algeria faltered due to the failure of the rentier groups to undergo capitalist transformation that could have allowed the emergence of the two main sides of the democratic equation: the bourgeoisie and the working class. The political elites that control the rentier economy were willing to accept political but not economic reforms that could have led to a reconsideration of the hegemonic relations within society and liberated it from the grip of power. In this regard, the failure of the economic reforms introduced by the Hamrouche government (1989- 1991) was a prelude to the disruption of the democratic transition and prevention of the development of a civil society capable of gaining its independence from authority and, on the other hand, the independence of the Algerian state from the global market.