A graduate in literature and economics, he began his professional life in 1964 as a financial inspector and later was a professor of Arabic literature. In 1972, President Houari Boumédiène appointed him as Deputy Director of International Relations at the Presidency, and he held that post until 1977. As an FLN candidate, Belkhadem was elected to the People"s National Assembly (APN) in 1977 from Sougueur in Tiaret, and was re-elected as a deputy from Sougueur in 1982 and 1987.
During his time as a deputy, he was rapporteur of the APN"s Planning and Finance Committee before being elected as President of the Education, Training, and Scientific Research Committee in 1987.
He was Vice-President of the APN from 1988 to 1990 and President of the APN from October 1990 to 1992. Later, he was Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs from July 2000 to May 2005, and then Minister of State and personal representative of the Head of State (President Abdelaziz Bouteflika) from May 2005 to May 2006.
He was appointed as Prime Minister on May 24, 2006, replacing Ahmed Ouyahia. One of two bombings in Algiers on April 11, 2007 struck near Belkhadem"s office.
He was not harmed in the attack and condemned the bombings as "criminal and cowardly".
At least 23 people were reported killed in the two bombings. Following the May 2007 parliamentary election, Belkhadem presented the resignation of his government, as expected, and this was accepted by President Bouteflika on June 1. Bouteflika reappointed Belkhadem as Prime Minister in a new government on June 4.
Bouteflika appointed Ouyahia as Prime Minister on June 23, 2008, replacing Belkhadem, who was instead appointed as Bouteflika"s personal representative.
He is the Secretary-General of the National Liberation Front (FLN), and since 2008 he has been Minister of State and Personal Representative of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Belkhadem was a member of the Political Bureau of the FLN from 1991 to 1997.