The Battle Between Democracy and Dictatorship in Africa

Hands reaching up

The fight between democracy and dictatorship on the African continent has been going on for decades, with no clear winner yet in sight. A lot of political scholars claim that it is impossible to find examples of both democracy and dictatorship existing in the same country at the same time, but this view is wrong because there are many African countries that have managed to accomplish this feat. This contradiction between democracy and dictatorship in Africa will continue on until one form of government triumphs over the other, and it’s hard to say what side will come out on top when all’s said and done.

Why Dictatorships Still Exist In Africa

To begin with, one must understand that it is impossible to rule a continent as large as Africa by themselves. Many of these nations are so large they can scarcely be ruled by any single individual; rather, they require a system of hierarchical rule. It also is apparent that many Africans would not respond well to democracy. Since their former European colonizers were forced out decades ago, most African nations have had very little experience with it (although South Africa is arguably an exception). The rapid change from dictatorship to democracy in some countries has resulted in violent coups and insurgencies (e.g., the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire). In order for democracy to succeed, it must be allowed to develop gradually, similar to how Europe’s monarchies evolved into parliamentary governments over centuries.

How Many African Countries Are Actually Democratic?

As of late 2018, there are 39 African countries that were deemed free by Freedom House. While many African countries do practice a certain amount of democracy, it would be wrong to assume that all African nations have a democratic rule. On closer inspection, there is significant diversity among African democracies. There are parliamentary systems with hybrid features such as Ethiopia; semi-presidential systems such as Ghana; military dictatorships like Cameroon; one-party systems such as Equatorial Guinea; and liberal autocracies like Algeria. These states have divergent political cultures, institutions, levels of development, and historical trajectories.

What Is Holding Back A Democratic Revolution In Africa?

The Conflict between democracy and dictatorship has been an ongoing struggle for a very long time. While some may argue that democracy is better than dictatorship, others point out that democratic leaders can become corrupt and take advantage of those who put them into power. So why have some countries fought so hard to achieve a government based on democracy while others just do not seem to care? The answer lies in where each country falls on The Economist’s Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) index of democracy, which rates each country based on electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, political culture, government function, political participation, and political economy.

Should Western Nations End Support for African Dictators?

There are many reasons why Western nations should end their support for African dictators. An obvious reason is that supporting dictators will cause more harm than good to African countries. It is because these leaders have no concern or care about their citizens, as long as they are getting paid from what they are doing to their own people. Dictatorships may help Western nations remain wealthy since most African countries rely on exports for foreign exchange earnings, but at what cost? These export earnings usually go towards maintaining a dictator’s lifestyle rather than investing it back into infrastructure or helping improve the quality of life for its citizens.–MM

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