Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some interesting articles and books about "democracy" in Africa

- An interesting article published in The Economist: Efficiency versus freedom. Probably as interesting if not more are the comments by the readers at the end of the article.
- Two other articles on a similar subject in CNN: Can democracy thrive in Africa? and Why foreign aid and Africa don't mix
- Finally a book:  DEMOCRACY AND CULTURE: AN AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE by Lioba Moshi and Abdulahi A. Osman (Editors). I did not read the book yet (just ordered it from Amazon) but the review seems very interesting.
Here is an extract from the review: "The above (democracy) definitions are based on the Western concept of liberal democracy and they reflect specifically Anglo-American cultural bias. This bias tends to reduce the concept of democracy to elections, multiparty system and universal suffrage such that any deviation is seen as an anomaly. As argued, this style of democracy failed in many parts of Africa mainly because the Western political parties aggregate primarily along class interests, whereas in Africa an established class system is mainly absent. Thus, contemporary Western insistence on multiparty politics does not consider indigenous cultural values, which makes multiparty electoral politics to degenerate into ethnic or communal conflicts."

To me the basic idea I'm interested in is: why do western countries (US and Europe) want to impose their democracy models in Africa and make their aid depend on it?
Even beside the question of the appropriateness of the western democracy model for Africa, I would even question the quality of those democracies. Do I need to remind how G W Bush was elected for his second term? Or how in Belgium, it is the political party who decide who will end up being elected by ranking their candidates in their election lists. Only the top candidates of the list end up being elected if the list of the party has collected enough votes.

Just some food for thought and discussion. Enough for today...

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