“The world is becoming more authoritarian.” This is the harsh observation of the IDEA report. The Institute, created in 1995, estimates that the number of countries whose regime becomes authoritarian is three times greater than the number of more democratic countries.

A sharp decline in democracy

Democracies are retreating. Hybrid regimes (regimes that combine authoritarian practices of power and democratic elections) and authoritarian regimes are progressing. This political trend affects “70% of the world’s population”. Kevin Casas-Zamora, leader of IDEA joined by AFP does not hide his pessimism, “it says a lot about the fact that something serious is happening on democratic quality”.

For 2021, the provisional IDEA score lists 98 democracies – the lowest number for several years – 20 regimes “hybrids” whose Russia, the Morocco or the Turkey and 47 authoritarian regimes, among which the China, l’Saudi Arabia, l’Ethiopia or theIran.

What about in Africa?

Experts note a strong predominance of diets “authoritarian” with the exception of the Tunisia considered a democracy “intermediate”. They note in their report on Africa and the Middle East that the number of democracies has increased from 22 to 18 between 2015 and 2020.

In particular, the Benign and the Ivory Coast have lost their democratic status. And the Mali switch from hybrid regime to authoritarian regime.

The Zambia is the only country to have positively changed category this year moving to that of democratic states.

(RE) see: Zambia: democratic transition after the victory of Hakainde Hichilema

Key criteria for defining a democratic state

IDEA experts use a number of criteria to assess the democratic state of a country, including the regular holding of electoral ballots.

They note that during the year 2020 national and regional elections were able to be held regularly and remain the normal mode of transfer of power in many countries.

Thus in March 2021 theSouth Africa and the Tunisia postponed their polls.

(RE) see: Tunisia: ten years after the post-Ben Ali free elections, where is Tunisian democracy?

In May it was the turn of the Gabon, from Gambia, of Kenya, from Libya, of the’Uganda and you Zimbabwe.

In August it was the turn of theEthiopia, in September from Nigeria, in October from Liberia, in November from Niger and some Somalia, in December of Chad.
In February 2021 it is the Somalia which suspended his electoral process.

Yes the Mali held elections in May 2020, a coup in August changed the situation, and the military junta established a transitional government in September 2020. ECOWAS and the international community are pressuring the government for general elections to take place take place in February 2022. Prime Minister Choguel Maïga spoke of a postponement of these general elections.

  • Government legitimacy

Only four countries collect honorable scores in the government representativeness category: the Cape Verde, the Ghana, the Senegal and theSouth Africa.
Between 2015 and 2020, 13 African countries amended or eliminated articles from their constitutions in order to extend the duration of presidential terms.

Transitions resulting from military coups took place in Algeria, on Egypt, to Sudan and at Zimbabwe in 2020 and Mali and at Chad in 2021.

(RE) see: Africa: military coups are on the increase

In an effort to contain disinformation about the pandemic, many governments have severely curtailed freedom of speech, the experts report said.

29 countries have passed laws that have restricted freedom of expression on the internet.
Between 2020 and 2021 internet access was removed in the context of elections to the Burundi, on Guinea, on Tanzania, to Togo and Uganda.

L’Ethiopia holds the record for internet shutdowns on the continent. the Nigeria banned Twitter in 2021. The Zambia shut down all social media during the August 2020 presidential election.

(RE) see: Internet control in Africa: “In democratic societies freedom must be the rule”

Eleven government, theAngola, l’Ethiopia, the Ghana, the Liberia, the Libya, the Mauritania, the Nigeria, the Sierra Leone, l’South Africa, the Sudan and the Tunisia used the army to enforce sanitary measures. Experts have listed “excessive use of force“in 21 countries.

(RE) see: Covid-19 in South Africa: police overflows are increasing to enforce containment

  • Respect for fundamental rights

Since 1994 the continent has experienced tremendous democratic development, underline IDEA experts. The freedoms of citizens, such as freedom of expression or that of association and assembly, have made significant progress. However, since 2015, they have noticed a decline in these freedoms, particularly in Benign, to Burkina Faso, on Ivory Coast, on Tanzania et en Zambia.

(RE) see: Benin: concerns for democracy

Increase in political violence and terrorism

Other factors are taken into account to quantify the state of democracy in a country, in particular insecurity. On this point some regions are more affected than others.

The Sahelian regions, East Africa and North Africa have been the most affected by jihadist activities. In Central Africa, conflicts in Cameroon and in the eastern regions of Democratic Republic of Congo have caused large migratory movements.

(RE) see: DR Congo: damning report on the state of siege

But to conclude, they underline the important part played by youth organizations and civil society in democratic development, particularly in mobilizations in South Africa, on Algeria, to Mali, to Nigeria, on Tunisia and at Sudan.

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