Can civil society address Africa’s democracy deficit?


The latest Afrobarometer survey shows a high level of support for democracy in Africa, with seventy percent of respondents wanting a democratic regime. But only 36% perceived an appropriate supply of democracy, notes Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University. Her research finds that the region’s so-called “democratic deficit” is in the classical liberal tradition (accountability and civil liberties) and less so in the democratic tradition (elections and political participation).

Further surveys from Afrobaromater, a National Endowment for Democracy grantee, also provide some insights into the relationship between religious affiliation and civil engagement, showing that, on an individual level, the religiously affiliated were more civically engaged than those not affiliated, she writes for the Conversation. Civic engagement included attendance of a community meeting membership of a voluntary association, and membership of a religious group outside normal worship meetings.

Civic associations may not be a panacea to sub-Saharan Africa’s liberty deficit, but they can play an important role in holding political power to account and protecting freedoms, asserts. RTWT

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