The Power of Demonstration: To Increase Resilience, Democracy must be Shown to Work

This policy brief examines what recent global political trends portend for the prospects of democratic consolidation in Africa. With focused analyses of three bellwether states—Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa—it will provide a schematic summary of the state of electoral democracy in the region. Kenya is an important economic and political power in the wider Eastern African region whose nascent democratic institutions are faced with increasing pressure from fractious ethnic politics, high levels of unemployment, corruption and general ineffectiveness of the public sector, and security challenges posed by the al-Shabaab terror group. In West Africa, Nigeria (Africa’s most populous state) faces similar challenges. Anemic economic growth, corruption and mismanagement of its oil wealth, and insecurity challenges posed by Boko Haram continue to test the viability of Nigerian electoral democracy and its ability to serve as an effective anchor of regional stability. The viability of Nigeria’s democracy will have an important demonstration effect within the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).