12.19.2010

Democracies in Africa

Source: Dropping Knowledge
Election Time...But How Many Voices Are Being Heard?
November was full of elections around the world. From the US to Azerbaijan, from Burma to Jordan - people went to the polls to cast their vote and take part in their government...or did they? Several African nations had elections recently (Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Tanzania...etc), but were they truly transparent and democratic?

In my comparative politics class this quarter, we talked a lot about the definition of democracy and the definitions of non-democracies and hybrid regimes - this was one of my favorite topics of the entire class, which made finding the map below exciting for me.

The map pictured below shows Africa's countries color-coordinated by whether they are a democracy, flawed democracy, hybrid regime, authoritarian regime, or failed state. Unfortunately there are still far too many authoritarian regimes on that map. I hope one day that will change. What I found interesting though was that the three African nations that went the polls in November came from different political situations - one from a flawed democracy, one from a hybrid regime, and one from an authoritarian regime. 

Tanzania
Tanzania was the nation least likely to erupt in violence during its election. Tanzania currently has a flawed democracy. Although elections are relatively open and fair, they are still marred by violence and corruption. Tanzania's incumbent President, Kikweke, won the elections again despite reports of violence, rigging, and poor voter turnout. Kikweke's party has been in power since nearly their independence, so it was not a huge surprise that he won the majority of votes cast by the few and far between who actually voted.

Ivory Coast
Ivory Coast is labeled as an authoritarian regime, thus it was the most likely to break out in violence...and that is exactly what happened. The past few weeks have been troubling for Ivory Coast. After years of civil war, unrest, coups, and violence - the presidential elections that took place in November were supposed to be the end of the trouble. The first elections in 10 years were supposed to signify a changing tide in the political ways of Ivory Coast, offering the people the chance to take part in their own government. However, things didn't go as planned. The incumbent President, Laurent Gbagbo, has so far refused to relinquish his power despite the fact that the opposition leader, Alassane Ouattara, has been declared the winner of the election. Riots have broke out over the past few weeks and President Gbagbo has called for the departure of UN peacekeeping forces, which very may well likely increase the chance of civil war to break out again. At a point where Ivory Coast could have chosen to turn down a path toward democracy, it has once again chosen the path to violence and dictatorship. I can only hope that one day soon the people of this West African nation will receive a break from all of this trouble.

Guinea
Guinea's label as a hybrid regime may soon be changing. Elections took place in the small West African country in October and members of the military or transitional government were prevented from running which significantly helped the election process run smoothly. The new President and longtime opposition leader, Alpha Conde, is set to take office soon. As a nation that only a few short years ago was plagued with violence and corruption, this democratic election is a sign that things could be changing for the better for Guineans. Congratulations!

Political Future of Africa
Guinea, Tanzania, and Ivory Coast are just three examples of the different political regime types in Africa. With 50 years of independence under most African nation's belt now, it will be interesting to see which nations begin to turn towards democracy and which continue to head down a dangerous path of violence and corruption. Although in my opinion there are still far too many nations in African that are considered authoritarian regimes for being independent for 50 years, I can only hope that the next 50 will bring about better leaders who decide to invest in and develop their countries to show the world what great potential they have. 
Source: P.A.P Blog

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1.3.11

    when i see ethiopia is considered partially democratic one i suspect the reliability of this website. Don't you people misinformed the world?
    the current ethiopian regime is authoritarian one. ETHIOPIA is one party country ruled by minority who have no representation by the people at all. The leader is dictator like Gadaffi of Libya or Mubarak of Egypt. This man holds the power for more than 17 years is known by mass killing and labeling scholars who stand agents him as criminals and gangs.

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