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Democracy in Nigeria
After 20 years, Democracy in Nigeria remains true to its goals of sustaining a strong political authority for socioeconomic growth. Home to Africa’s largest economy, 65 percent of Nigeria’s wealth derives from its oil and gas production. The country itself continues to recover from a recession in 2016. However, it also suffers from its recent unemployment rate increasing to 23.1 percent in 2017. A study from the World Data Lab revealed that an estimated 90 million Nigerian people continue to live in poverty.

Government Efforts to Reduce the Wealth Gap

Fortunately, the Nigerian government’s implementation of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill seeks to change these conditions. The bill functions as an investment to promote Nigeria as a future leader in the oil production industry. Research from the International Monetary Fund indicates that between 2019 and 2020 Nigeria’s economy should grow by at least 2.2 percent.

Amid strides towards economic development, many Nigerian people find it hard to put their trust into newly-elected leaders. After gaining independence from the British in 1960, Nigeria’s government endured corruption from previous leaders that led to polarization both politically and economically.

Nigerian legislators earn the most globally, with salaries starting at $48 million a year for senators. With the average Nigerian salary at $1,294, most Nigerians feel disconnected from their leaders because of this wealth gap. In most cases, optimal advocacy for Nigerian citizens translates to decentralizing power to more local government representatives. Consequently, this would ensure more groups of people receive equal access to policy implementation. The decentralization of government in Nigeria corresponding with democracy in Nigeria elevates the power of the population.

Reelection of President Buhari

The current democratic government, known as the Fourth Republic, attempts to restore hope to the Nigerian people. In February 2019, Nigeria re-elected its President, Muhammadu Buhari, for a second term. Only 28 million of the 80 million registered voters in Nigeria voted in the election. The majority of the four million votes that allowed President Buhari to win the election emerged from his popularity with the poor population in the north.

Democracy in Nigeria succeeds in giving a voice to the voiceless, as opposed to utilizing mass poverty to exclude impoverished people from the political process. In the end, the essence of democracy encompasses a nation that can elect its own representatives.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) helps to:

  • Establish civic organizations.
  • Strengthen political leadership.
  • Promote accountability and openness in governments around the world.

For over 35 years, NDI has partnered with more than 156 countries to advance democratic progress globally. By getting citizens to recognize elections as a fundamental human right, the NDI strengthens the political power of that country, which solidifies the idea of accountable democratic governance. The NDI also understands the importance of inclusion in policymaking and works to increase democratic participation from marginalized groups by addressing laws that target them.

As a result of this organization, Nigerians with visual impairments had the opportunity to vote for the first time in the 2019 election. Democracy in Nigeria exemplifies that growing global efforts to impose effective societal change starts with a government that truly reflects and endorses the interest of its citizens.

– Nia Coleman
Photo: Flickr

Ten Features of the Parliamentary System

Despite the fact that numerous nations around the world follow the parliamentary system of government, many Americans do not understand what it is. The parliamentary system is a democratic government. In this government, a coalition of political parties with the greatest representation in Parliament form the nation’s governing body. Below are ten features of the parliamentary system that describe this popular form of democracy.

Ten Features of the Parliamentary System

  1. The first of the ten features of the parliamentary system of government is the supremacy of its legislative branch. This is its defining feature. The legislative branch conducts its business through a unicameral (one house) or bicameral (two houses) Parliament. This group is composed of representatives or members that are elected by citizens of the country. The primary job of members of Parliament is to create and pass laws.
  2. The parliamentary system of government, unlike the presidential system, creates a divide between the roles of Head of Government and Head of State. Rather than citizens, members of Parliament elect the Prime Minister, who is the Head of Government. The Prime Minister oversees Parliament. This creates an overlap between the legislative and executive branches of government. The Head of State in a parliamentary systam is largely a symbolic role. Hereditary monarchs typically have this role reserved.
  3. The Prime Minister has no official term length. Thus, so long as Parliament is satisfied, the Prime Minister remains in position. Should it ever be called for, members of parliament will use a majority vote known as a “vote of no-confidence” in order to remove a Prime Minister from office.
  4. Majority vote of Parliament passes laws. Then, they are then signed into legislation by the Prime Minister, who does not have veto power. This is contrary to the presidential system. In the case of disagreement, the Prime Minister can return a bill to Parliament. However, a majority vote by Parliament can veto that return.
  5. In most parliamentary systems of government, there is a Supreme Court that can declare a law as unconstitutional. This would be done if it were to pose violations against the nation’s constitution. However, some countries, such as Great Britain and New Zealand, lack provisions for judicial review. In these countries, the only check against the legislature is the results of the next election season.
  6. Though uncommon, some parliamentary systems have an elected president who exercises foreign powers. An example of some foreign powers would be national defense and military command. The elected president exercises these powers. Some countries that follow this system are Lithuania, Bangladesh and France.
  7. Though members of Parliament hold their positions in office by each election season, they can be turned out of office. If one respective party loses majority holdover members of Parliament, they can be removed. Other members of Parliament, as well as the Prime Minister, are then able to vote out a member of Parliament. A no-confidence vote accomplishes this.
  8. Parliamentary systems lack what presidential systems call “Checks and Balances.” Therefore, the parliamentary system tends to be more efficient. This is because political gridlocks cannot delay them.
  9. A parliamentary system of government consists of members serving various political parties. Therefore, coalitions are a very popular type of agreement in parliamentary governments. Members of opposing political parties will often form a coalition, otherwise known as a temporary union. This alliance utilizes its combined resources to accomplish a common goal.
  10. Depending on the rules of voting within a country, the political representation within members of Parliament may consist of one party. It may also be proportionally representative of the nation. If a country follows a “first-past-the-post” (FPTP) principle, Parliament will most likely consist of one or two majority political parties. An FPTP is a principle in which candidates with the most ballots win a seat. However, some countries follow a rule of proportional representation. This means that the political makeup of Parliament members is appropriate to that of the nation.

With so many types of government around the world, it can be difficult to understand how each works. These are ten features of the parliamentary system that can help citizens around the world have a better understanding of this popular form of government.

-Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

Bulgaria

Whenever Bulgaria is mentioned in the media, coverage is generally skewed towards poverty and corruption, depicting it as one of the EU’s most troubled members. However, a closer look at the facts and figures of life in Bulgaria proves that how the media misrepresents Bulgaria does not entirely reflect reality.

Bulgaria and the EU

Bulgaria is the poorest member of the EU. This fact has not escaped the notice of the rest of Europe, and Bulgaria’s media representation has suffered for it. A 1984 study performed by Weaver and shows that the poorer a country is, the less coverage it is likely to gain in any given news outlet, and the more negative that coverage is liable to be. In contrast, richer countries such as the U.S. are much more likely to receive positive media attention, overshadowing poorer nations like Bulgaria.

Bulgaria in the Media

When the media mentions Bulgaria, it paints it as a corrupt Eastern European country that the rest of the EU wants nothing to do with. Media biases against Bulgaria frequently stem from the fact that Bulgaria was once part of the Soviet Bloc. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Bulgarians struggled to adjust to the fact that their country was no longer Communist, and it was not uncommon for Bulgarians to migrate west to try for a fresh start. However, they were often met with fear from their new neighbors, mostly due to their status as ex-Communists whose government was still somewhat corrupt and were subsequently dehumanized by many Western European nations. For example, Bulgaria has repeatedly been denied admission to the Schengen Zone, which would permit Bulgarians to work and travel freely in fellow Schengen countries within the EU. This, combined with the country’s comparatively low GDP, has led to media depictions in which they are given the same derogatory treatment that migrants are typically given by news outlets.

Bulgaria and the Rest of the World

How the media misrepresents Bulgaria becomes apparent when examining the economic and political conditions in Bulgaria. For starters, Bulgaria’s GDP is currently $18,900, having risen from $8.400 in 1991. Although this is, in fact, fairly low by EU standards, it is not low when thought of in the context of the rest of the world. The world is split into four income groups, ranging from Group One (extreme poverty) to Group Four (the U.S. standard). Bulgaria falls into Group Three (upper middle income); most of its people can afford decent beds, bikes, and maybe cheap cars, but not annual vacations or spacious houses. The average person is getting about 6570 kilowatt-hours of electricity, 48 percent of them have Internet access, and 99.4 percent have access to clean drinking water. In fact, as of 2014, no one in Bulgaria is living in extreme poverty. Meanwhile, the rest of the EU’s citizens are scattered throughout Groups 3 and 4.

Corruption in Bulgaria is also not as abundant as the media portrays it. For example, the Inequality Index (Gini) rated Bulgaria around 40, which is in the middle of the scale. Their first elections took place in 1990, and their current democracy score is 9 out of 10.

Overall, things are looking much better in Bulgaria than the media lets on. While the media would let its consumers believe that Bulgaria is a hopeless case of corruption and poverty, it is actually a free nation with a thriving economy. If one looks hard enough, one will find that how the media misrepresents Bulgaria is a true misrepresentation and nothing more.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

 

How the Media Misrepresents KazakhstanKazakhstan, located in Central Asia, has long been viewed by the world as a post-communist, backward state — politically oppressive, economically regressive and socially intolerant. This image is an example of how the media misrepresents Kazakhstan, displaying it as a totally different world from that of developed Euro-American countries.

How the Media Misrepresents Kazakhstan

A close examination of the lives of people in Kazakhstan and of its actual political and economic situation, including the perspectives of diverse sources, reveals how the media misrepresents Kazakhstan, fueled by the after-effects of the Cold War. Many people, especially in the U.S., received misrepresentative information about Kazakhstan from the American comedy film “Borat,” a parody of Kazakhstan’s culture rather than an accurate portrayal.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s long-advocated approach of “economy first, political reforms later” is described by British human rights advocate Hugh Williamson as a visage of “economy first, political reforms never” instead. Williamson claims that Kazakhstan is moving politically backward with “no free elections, little permitted open speech and the government significantly represses human rights.”

Current Developments in Kazakhstan

However, slow but apparent democratic progress in Kazakhstan has been recorded. It has been previously hindered because of the state of total economic collapse after the breakdown of the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, however, its economy has flourished and Kazakhstan is now an upper-middle-income country, according to the World Bank.

Democratic development in Kazakhstan includes the Secular Constitution established in 1995, which outlines a separation of powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches. Elections were also delivered in a multiparty parliament in 2012.

Further Progress in the Nation

In early 2016, Kazakhstan launched the Fostering Productive Innovations Project in cooperation with the World Bank. This is where ongoing science commercialization projects based on international standards of scientific excellence and high commercialization potential were developed.

In addition, Kazakhstan launched its first ever five-year program for Digital Kazakhstan 2020 which aims at creating the “Digital Silk Road.” This will provide support for the development of digital infrastructure and invest in human capital.

How the media misrepresents Kazakhstan extends to the nation’s political, economic, social and technological development. It is easy to dispel these cultural myths about Kazakhstan after looking into this exotic land through the lens of objective historical and social analysis.

– Heulwen Leung
Photo: Google

Effects Education Has on Society
Education affects society in many important ways. The Borgen Project is trying to improve education in improvised areas because of the many benefits that educations offers to the people in live in impoverished nations. Here is a list of the top ten effects education has on society.

The Top 10 Effects Education Has on Society

  1. Education is important in the creation of any democratic society. As Franklin D. Roosevelt says, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.” People need a good education if they want a good democracy.
  2. Education is needed to make a society geopolitically stable. Without a proper educational system available to everyone, terrorists could use free education as a way to radicalize people. In other words, geopolitical stability is one of education’s most powerful effects on society.
  3. Education leads to economic prosperity in the global marketplace. One of the most important effects education has on society is giving the people who live in a society the skills they need to compete in the global marketplace, and the skills they need to produce technological goods that can be sold on the open market. Socrates best expressed this idea when he stated: “Prefer knowledge to wealth, for the one is transitory, the other perpetual.”
  4. Education gives people the knowledge they need to elect capable leaders. Plato stated, “In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill… we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.” Education helps the members of society see through the manipulations used by politicians to get votes so that the members of the society can vote for the leader who is best able to run the society.
  5. Education helps promote tolerance in a society and helps reduce common conflicts between diverse populations in an urban setting. Helen Keller said that “The highest result of education is tolerance.” Educating members of society about other people who either live in the society or its neighboring states have the power to reduce many conflicts.
  6. Education has the power to help societies, and the world in general, change for the better. According to Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. Malcolm X says that: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” Education is a powerful tool that can be used to make the world a better place to live in.
  7. Education is important because it helps members in a society learn from the mistakes of the past. Plato has stated that geopolitical stability cannot be created by forming a democratic government; if the government is established by force or because of overthrowing an old regime, the new government could transform from a government that encourages peace and democracy into a new government that uses force to maintain power. Having an education is important because good education allows members of a society to learn from past mistakes and prevent the same mistakes from happening in the future.
  8. Education is the first step a society needs before giving rights to women and other minority groups. Education is a powerful tool that enables women and other minority groups to gain fundamental civil rights. It is important to treat women and other minorities with respect in the classroom. Abraham Lincoln stressed the importance that education has in helping people who live in a society to more fundamental civil rights when he said, “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation is the philosophy of government in the next.”
  9. Education reduces violence and crime in societies. Teaching people to read has been shown to prevent people from engaging in crime. In fact, the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment is a charity group uses education to combat violence and crime.
  10. Education creates hope for the future. Giving people hope that they can improve their lot in life is one of the more powerful effects education has on a society. John F. Kennedy best expressed the power of a good education when he said: “Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”  JFK’s words about America apply to every society on Earth.

The READ Act

The Borgen Project works to help bring the positive effects education has on society to all through the READ Act. Education is valuable, and everybody needs to ensure education is widely available. A proper educational system can ensure people in any impoverished nation have access to both upward mobility and geopolitical stability.

– Michael Israel

Photo: Flickr

Kurdish-Turkish WarThe Kurdish-Turkish war is known to be the largest civil war in the middle east, taking away the lives of more than 40,000 people, a majority of them being Kurds. After lasting almost three decades, it finally ended in 2013 when both the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, also known as the PKK, announced a “bilateral cease-fire” to bring necessary peace within the region.

Here are nine facts that will give you a better understanding of the historic conflict:

  1. Tensions leading to the conflict between the Kurds and the Turks began after a nationalist Turkish force, led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, established the Republic of Turkey in 1934 with the aim of “Turkifying” the entire state. This decision forced millions of Kurds to live in a state that only approved of Turks, and denied the existence of the Kurdish ethnicity. It led to extreme censorship for the Kurds, as their language was banned from the media, forcing Kurdish children to learn only Turkish in school. That is how a strong Kurdish resistance, the PKK, was born, with the main goal of creating a Kurdish state.
  2. The Kurdistan Worker’s Party was founded in 1978 by Abdullah Öcalan, with an ideology focused on Marxism. The PKK sought to create an independent Kurdish state in order to regain their autonomy from the Turkish government. The party had between 5,000 and 10,000 armed fighters who initiated violent attacks toward Turkish government officials.
  3. After several attacks, the Turkish government attempted to ease tensions with the Kurds by giving them “cultural concessions” in 1991 and limited autonomy in 1993. But, the resistance intensified as the interdiction of creating Kurdish political parties was maintained and, more importantly, direct military control was imposed in Kurdish areas under martial law. This led to a civil war involving approximately 200,000 security forces, in which an estimated 15,000 people were killed and dozens of villages were destroyed between 1982 and 1995.
  4. In response to Turkey’s militarization of the Kurdish region, the PKK launched an armed struggle within the Turkish territory which resulted in a counter military attack and, later on, a major crackdown from the Turkish government. In fact, Ankara established a state of emergency in 1987 and the Anti-Terror Law in 1991, which led to the killing of thousands of Kurdish civilians and the arrest of anyone who seemed to be associated with the PKK, or any other leftist groups.
  5. Following the implementation of these anti-terror laws, the Kurds strengthened their resistance towards the Turkish state, who, in response, resorted to even more violence and repression. This was the start of a “vicious cycle” for the Kurdish-Turkish war, as the Turkish government’s sole mission to end this struggle was to capture Öcalan and sentence him to death.
  6. After Öcalan was captured in 1999 with the help of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, the Turkish government began to reform its democracy, which led to significant changes for the Kurds. Those changes included the right for Kurds to learn their language in private courses and broadcast in their own language. Other reforms were the abolition of the death penalty and the elimination of the state of emergency.
  7. In the 2000s, while Turkey was experiencing a major democratic crisis, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) implemented a Kurdish peace process, which ultimately failed due to lack of cohesion between the different parties in Turkey.
  8. As democracy began slowly deteriorating, many Kurdish groups requested a peace deal with the Turkish President Erdogan, instead of consolidating democracy. However, in the mid-2000s, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), a new Kurdish political party, surfaced and demanded democratic reform, which ended this peace process. The HDP is now represented in the Parliament, having won 10 percent of the vote in June 2015.
  9. As of today, President Erdogan’s power has grown stronger, facing much weaker opposition. Many reforms have changed the Kurds’ lives in a significant way after the Kurdish-Turkish war, such as the right to illustrate the Kurdish identity in the media and the right to establish Kurdish political parties.

One might ask if this means the Kurdish-Turkish war has been resolved. But, despite the evolution of the Turkish state and the representation of the leftist ideologies in the assembly, many critics argue that the situation could lead to potential uprisings in the future if the Turkish government keeps denying all the human rights abuses committed toward the Kurds. Acknowledgment of the Kurdish struggle for freedom is necessary in order to move forward with a more democratic nation.

Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

Parliamentary Democracy Government
There are several types of democracies, and here we will explain what a parliamentary democracy is by comparing it to a presidential democracy, which we have in the United States.

In short, a parliamentary democracy is a system of government in which citizens elect representatives to a legislative parliament to make the necessary laws and decisions for the country. This parliament directly represents the people.

In a presidential democracy, the leader is called a President, and he or she is elected by citizens to lead a branch of government separate from the legislative branch. If you remember back to government class, you will remember that the United States has three branches of the government: the executive, the judicial, and the legislative. The President leads the executive branch of government.

 

Role of Parliamentary Democracy

 

In a parliamentary democracy, you have a Prime Minister, who is first elected as a member of parliament, then elected Prime Minister by the other members of the parliamentary legislature. However, the Prime Minister remains a part of the legislature. The legislative branch makes the laws, and thus the Prime Minister has a hand in law-making decisions. The Prime Minister works directly with other people in the legislature to write and pass these laws.

In our presidential democracy, we still have a legislature, but we also have a president. He is separate from the legislature, so although he works with them, it is not as direct as if he were a Prime Minister. The laws that the legislature wants to pass must first go through the president; he can sign them into being or he can veto them. The President can go to the legislative branch and suggest laws, but they ultimately write them for his approval.

Furthermore, in parliamentary systems, the legislature has the right to dismiss a Prime Minister at any time if they feel that he or she is not doing the job as well as expected. This is called a “motion of no confidence,” and is not as much of a drawn out process. In the US, impeachment is an extensive, formal process in which an official is accused of doing something illegal.

Some countries with a parliamentary system are constitutional monarchies, which still have a king and queen. A few examples of these are the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Japan.

It is important to remember that both of these systems of government are democracies. Ultimately, the citizens who vote have the voice.

– Alycia Rock

Sources: Wise Geek, Scholastic, How Stuff Works
Photo: Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

 

parliamentary democracy government

Democratic NationsIn nations such as the United States, the concept of democracy is sacred as something that has existed for centuries and must be protected. But for many nations around the globe, democracy is a relatively new development. Here are the five of some of the youngest democratic nations in the world:

  1. Bhutan
    Once an absolute monarchy in the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan transitioned into a democratic nation in 2008 when its people voted for the first time on the members of its new parliament. Since then, the country has become a constitutional monarchy with Tshering Tobgay as its current prime minister.
  2. Guinea
    Guinea endured decades of dictatorship before becoming a democratic nation. In 2010, Guinea followed in fellow West African nation Nigeria’s footsteps and had its first democratic election, won by Alpha Conde.
  3. Tunisia
    Democracy has had a tough time taking root in the Middle East, but Tunisia braved the transition in 2011 when the populace successfully rose up and unseated the dictatorship that was in place. Though off to a rocky start, Tunisians are poised to fight for democracy in their nation in the upcoming years.
  4. Myanmar
    After 50 years of military rule, the Burmese junta made way for a new civilian government in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2016 that citizens were able to vote for their first civilian president, Htin Kyaw.
  5. Burkina Faso
    The citizens of Burkina Faso didn’t have their first free and fair elections until November of 2015, making Burkina Faso among the youngest democratic nations in the world.


It’s easy for citizens of the United States to take democracy for granted, especially since it has been a central tenet of American life since the nation’s birth in the late 18th century. But for young democratic nations such as Burkina Faso and Tunisia, democracy is not a birthright, and the fight for it is far from over.

Mary Grace Costa

Photo: Flickr

The Kurdish Democracy Model
In Northern Syria, the Kurdish communities have established three administrative and autonomous regions. These regions are called cantons and each enjoys their own legislative, administrative and legal bodies. Although these cantons are part of the Syrian territory, the Kurdish communities enjoyed autonomy in the wake of the Syrian crisis and oppression from the Islamic State fighters. These three cantons are named Afrin, Jezira and Kobani.

The Kurdish democracy model is an outcome of the Rojava movement, which seeks autonomy for Kurdish communities in Syria. The model is manifested in the Rojava constitution, which is also known as the social contract. It was approved on Jan. 6, 2016.

The preamble of the constitution reads as: “We the peoples of the democratic autonomous regions…by our free will have announced this contract to establish justice, freedom and democracy … without discrimination on the basis of religion, language, faith sect or gender.”

This Kurdish democracy model does not accept any imposed ideas of nation-state, centralized, military or religious state. It solemnly believes in human rights, democracy, free will and strives to protect those goals no matter what the cost is.

In every canton, there is a Legislative Assembly, an Executive Assembly, a High Election Commission, a Constitutional Assembly and Regional Assemblies. The Rojava Movement resembles historic acts of resistance such as the Algerian war against France and the Warsaw battle against invading Germany.

The Rojava cantons are remarkable examples of beacons of hope emerging from the Syrian civil war. Rojava maintained its independence and created its own democracy. In the Kurdish democracy model, the top three officials have to be from Arab, Kurdish and an Assyrian/Armenian Christian. One of these has to be women. In this phase of the Kurdish struggle, the Kurdish democracy model could start a global movement towards a better implementation of democracy and a cooperative socioeconomic model.

Financial Times describes the Kurdish democratic model as a power to people model. It is a radical experiment in narrow stretches of Northern Syria. In Rojava, which is hard to access due to Turkish blockade, the authority rests in the communal level (the village). In the villages, every social group has a say in decision making. The communities enjoy self-governing measures.

Furthermore, all minorities are included and everyone gets a chance to speak and participate in governing matters. This might seem radical to even the old-established democracies. But for the Kurds, after decades of oppression, this is one thing to look forward upon with eyes full of hope.

Noman Ahmed

Photo: Flickr

Africa_parliament_democracy_womenAccording to the Economist, only three out of 53 African countries had democracies by the end of the Cold War.

Now countries like the one-party presidential republic Eritrea and the absolute monarchy Swaziland are becoming irregularities on the continent. Indeed, this is because Africa has experienced increasing engagement in the democratic process.

While African countries have made significant progress in regards to the spread of democracy, there is still significant work to be done. For example, according to the Guardian, nine African leaders have been in power for more than 20 years with three of them holding power for more than 30 years.

This is an example of the popular notion that African countries are directed by a group of authoritarian heads called “Big Men,” who dominate and control every aspect of the country.

Although authoritarian heads have not lost complete power, women in Africa have benefited greatly from democratically held elections.

For example, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected president of Liberia in 2011, becoming Africa’s first democratically-elected, female head of state. She was followed by Joyce Banda, who became president of Malawi in 2012 and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who was elected president of Mauritius in 2015.

The Guardian labels the notion that the transition of power in government is inherently violent to be “misguided.” There are many factors that could incite violence during the election process aside from transition of power.

These events include voter belief of election fraud, opposition initiated violence as a result of an act being considered unjust, or violence being instigated by leaders threatened by the opposition.

Kenya’s 2007 election proved to be an example of the devastation that can result from the election process when 1,133 people were killed and 600,000 displaced. However, while this kind of violent election gains the most international attention, it is the exception and there are more peaceful elections.

For example, the Guardian cites a recent peaceful election that took place in the Central African Republic, during which voters went to the polls in February in hopes of restoring democracy in Africa and ending years of struggle.

Post-Cold War advancement has been substantial for the African continent in many ways and the foundations that make up democracy in Africa have been overwhelmingly embraced by its citizens.

Alex Vines, head of the Africa program at Chatham House, a London-based think-tank told the Economist, “Progress comes in waves,” and much of West Africa has experienced a huge shift to democratic representation.

Many countries that have experienced devastatingly violent conflicts, such as Sierra Leone and Liberia, now possess, if not perfect, adequate political systems.

Heidi Grossman

Sources: Economist 1, Economist 2, The Guardian
Photo: Flickr