Across Africa the demand for democracy is outstripping supply. Young, urban populations want the right to express themselves, vote in fair elections and hold leaders to account—at the same time as already flawed democracies are becoming more so. It is a mismatch that will shape the continent, The Economist reports:
Until recently Benin was a bastion of liberty. But the government of Mr (Patrice) Talon, a tycoon elected president in 2016, has stuffed courts with cronies, excluded opposition parties from elections, shut down the internet and arrested journalists. Each year Freedom House, a watchdog in Washington, publishes a global assessment of democracy, giving each country a score out of 100. Benin’s decline in 2019, from 79 to 66, or from “free” to “partly free”, as per the report’s categories, is one of the largest drops ever for an African country…
Outsiders may care little about African democracy. But there is no such apathy on the continent itself. In an Afrobarometer poll of 34 countries published in 2019, 68% of Africans said that democracy was the best form of government, a share that was broadly stable over the previous decade. The figure is higher when respondents are presented with specific alternatives; 78%, for example, said they would not give up multi-party elections for strongman rule.
“Younger Africans do not want to go back to one-party states or military rule,” says Chris Fomunyoh of the National Democratic Institute (@NDI), a partner of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). “They want to improve on the baseline they’ve been given.” RTWT