Africa’s ‘impressive’ resilience of democratic norms and values


The headlines suggest it has been a worrying year for politics in sub-Saharan Africa. But from #EndSARS to the election victory of Hakainde Hichilema in Zambia, Africans are pushing more democracy – not less – argues analyst Nic Cheeseman.

It is true that the poor performance of many governments over the last few years, and consistent controversy over electoral manipulation, has led to falling public satisfaction with how democracy is working, he writes for The Africa Report:

Afrobarometer [a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)] has just dropped the results of its latest round of nationally representative surveys conducted in 34 countries between 1999 and 2021. As ever, their data – which is freely available here – has an amazing amount to tell us about public attitudes and perceptions. The latest findings reveal that a majority of citizens are “dissatisfied” with democracy in 26 (76%) of the 34 countries included in the sample. In some countries, “satisfaction” is so low that it is almost non-existent: just 11% in Gabon and 17% in Angola.

And yet, adds Cheeseman, the author of several books on African politics, ….

Perhaps the best evidence of the impressive resilience of democratic norms and values is the fact that support for democracy is often highest in countries where it is under threat. In 2021, this includes Benin (81%), Ethiopia (90%), Zimbabwe (78%) and Zambia (84%) – where the survey was conducted before authoritarian President Edgar Lungu was defeated at the ballot box. RTWT

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