How much of a factor was demographics in France's exit from Algeria?

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#1
How much of a factor was demographics in France's exit from Algeria in 1962?

I mean, I frequently listen to Israeli leftists panicking about how, if Israel doesn't separate itself from the Palestinians, its Jewish majority will be threatened (something which might not be fully true; after all, Israel can annex only the West Bank and still maintain a Jewish majority of around 58%--or a little higher than that if partilineal Jews are included). In turn, this makes me wonder--was there similar demographic panic among French people in regards to Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s?

I mean, I know the standard narrative in regards to Algeria (I learned it in my Terrorism class and also a bit in some other classes as well as from some reading in my spare time). Basically, France was on the verge of militarily winning its war in Algeria, but the methods that it used to achieve this--such as torture--repulsed the French people and caused most of them to conclude that the war in Algeria simply isn't worth fighting--thus causing France to withdraw from Algeria in 1962.

However, was the demographic issue ever raised in French debates about Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s? I mean, if (northern) Algeria were to remain a part of France and the population there insisted on full equality (for instance, having their vote be weighed the same as that of a person in European France), then Europeans' hold on France would gradually become much more tenuous. After all, if France and Algeria were one country right now, there would be something like 60 million non-Muslims and 45 million Muslims (since we're only talking about France and northern Algeria here, you can probably subtract several million Muslims from this calculation, but the picture probably won't fundamentally change considering that most of Algeria's population lived in northern Algeria, which was officially a part of France). When the main ethnic group in a country only has a 3-2 advantage in population, this might very well be a recipe for large-scale tensions and disaster in the long(er)-run. (Heck, just ask Austria-Hungary and the Soviet Union--and their populations were more compatible with each other than Europeans and Algerian Muslims were.)

Anyway, any thoughts on this? Specifically, did demographics play a significant role in France's debate over Algeria in the 1950s and 1960s?
 
Apr 2017
1,154
U.S.A.
#3
I doubt demographics played much of a role in France decision to withdraw from Algeria. It was more influenced by their military defeats and spiraling costs. They probably didn't fully consider future demographics. France also considers itself "special" in that they could assimilate the Algerians into French culture, although this would be doubtful.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#4
I'd keep quiet about your 'Terrorism Class' if I were you :)
Why exactly do you say that?

(I mean, I know that you're trying to make a point here. I just don't know what this point is.)

I doubt demographics played much of a role in France decision to withdraw from Algeria. It was more influenced by their military defeats and spiraling costs. They probably didn't fully consider future demographics. France also considers itself "special" in that they could assimilate the Algerians into French culture, although this would be doubtful.
To my knowledge, though, the military aspect of the Algerian war was not going badly for the French.

As for the financial costs, that's certainly possible. Of course, I wonder if, in the aftermath of realizing that France has tortured FLN members, most French people realized that, whatever the case was before, it would now be impossible to assimilate the Algerians since there was already too much bad blood between the French and Algerians.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
17,726
SoCal
#7
I found an interesting 1959 quote by Charles de Gaulle about Algeria:

Why Was Enoch Powell Condemned as a Racist and Not Charles de Gaulle?

"In English translation:

It is very good that there are yellow French, black French, brown French. They show that France is open to all races and has a universal vocation. But [it is good] on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France. We are still primarily a European people of the white race, Greek and Latin culture, and the Christian religion.
Don’t tell me stories! Muslims, have you gone to see them? Have you watched them with their turbans and jellabiyas? You can see that they are not French! Those who advocate integration have the brain of a hummingbird. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake the bottle. After a second, they will separate again.
Arabs are Arabs, the French are French. Do you think the French body politic can absorb ten million Muslims, who tomorrow will be twenty million, after tomorrow forty? If we integrated, if all the Arabs and Berbers of Algeria were considered French, would you prevent them to settle in France, where the standard of living is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-The-Two-Churches but Colombey-The-Two-Mosques."


Thus, it looks like Charles de Gaulle did express doubt about France's ability to assimilate ten million Algerian Muslims and especially for France to retain its European character if it indeed did this.