Africa: A Continent on the Edge, from Skewed Elections to Illiberal Democracies

Abiodun Odusote


The conduct of regular elections at pre-determined time is a hallmark of liberal democracy. Most African countries now conduct regular elections. However, it is generally agreed that liberal democracy is not measured only by the conduct of elections but by a consistent commitment to certain democratic and constitutional ethos. The practice of liberal democracy is a commitment to the rule of law, free, fair and credible elections, transparency and good governance among others. In Africa today, it is generally agreed that despite majority of the countries achieving democracies, bad governance, lack of development, inequalities, exacerbation of internal conflicts, and human suffering are pervasive. Scholars have argued that African countries have generally not enjoyed complete freedom despite the periodic conduct of seeming elections in many African countries. The practice of democracy in Africa has been characterized by hooliganism, banditry and citizen frustrations, leading some commentators and scholars to question the suitability of liberal democratic norms within the African space, while some other scholars advance arguments for the justification of hybrid regimes as a variant of democracy suited for the African space. This research therefore seeks to interrogate the factors exacerbating hybrid regimes in Africa, examines the suitability or otherwise of hybrid governments in Africa, the implications of hybrid regimes for constitutional development, inclusive development and further seek the reconciliation of formal democratic practices with substantive democratic practices in Africa. Enquires will be made on how democratic institutions can synergize with democratic government to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people, how democracy can impact the people and how democracy can deliver good governance and create commonwealth for the citizenry. This paper acknowledges the difficulties of seeking a uniform constitutional template that promotes liberal democracies across African states. However, this paper suggests basic constitutional democratic baseline that has the potential of meeting the fundamental aspirations of the African people.

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