"Any way the wind blows" - Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
While most of the political attention is on the upcoming US election, last Sunday Guinea held presidential elections. The context of the elections is complex: the transition to democracy is recent and tentative at best; the (undeniably lacking) constitution was revised just before the elections (and arguably without broad consensus and with a questionable referendum); the 82 year old president decided again be a candidate (this was only possible due to the change in constitution); and the political landscape remains highly fractured (including along ethnic lines). While official results are still awaited, the tension has already meant some violence (and here).
It is difficult to predict what this will mean for Guinea going forward. While the African Union and ECOWAS observation mission have been relatively positive, it is difficult to see this process as a serious step forward in terms of democratic consolidation. Several challenging elections in Africa remain this year.
Democratisation in Africa remains a combination of steps forward and steps back. In many cases fundamental challenges remain. While in academic and professional circles there is some debate about if Africans want (or should want) democracy and elections, survey data seems to suggest that Africans themselves seem to desire democracy and open elections. It might be a case of Churchill’s, “Worst option but for all the others.”
22.10.2020, Brussels, Belgium
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Online encampment of A. S. Barry. Disparate and not-so-disparate thoughts on international relations, development, writing, and life.