• Civic Education: Approaches and Efficacy

    By Evie Brown, Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, May 2013 open educationIn new and emerging democracies—and even in some more established ones—many citizens may have a limited understanding of how to engage and influence state institutions and political processes. Civic education workshops and programs have been shown to boost citizens’ knowledge about their options for political participation and stimulate collective organization around shared interests. The key to successful programs tends to be repetition, interactivity, and leadership from locally respected individuals who contextualize the agenda with locally relevant issues.

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    Photo credit: Merridy Wilson-Strydom
  • Social Media: A Practical Guide for Electoral Management Bodies

    by Shana Kaiser, International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2014 cellphone - votedThe ongoing rapid expansion of mobile telephony and social media in Africa has significant implications for political participation and citizen expectations. Many African electoral management bodies have already adopted some social media tools, opening new ways to register voters, stimulate public engagement, and counter misinformation and incitement. However, maximizing the potential of social media in elections management requires a clear strategy backed by adequate resources to manage high-tempo, iterative exchanges with a diverse audience.

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  • Protecting Democracy: Reclaiming Civil Society Space in Africa

    Sisonke Msimang - OSISABy The Centre for Citizens Participation on the African Union, Trust Africa, Southern Africa Trust, and the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa, November 2011. A diverse and active civil society sector is an essential component of democratic change and consolidation in Africa, yet in many countries new burdensome regulations and signs of active government resistance to these groups are inhibiting their development. To overcome these challenges, African civil society groups need to strengthen their networks at the regional and continental levels, form coalitions for solidarity actions, and enhance strategic planning to work around existing suspicions and barriers that prevent productive engagement with government institutions. Download the report: [ENGLISH][FRANÇAIS]
  • Africa's Militaries: A Missing Link in Democratic Transitions

    Mauritania_military-w By Mathurin C. Houngnikpo. Africa Center for Strategic Studies, January 2012.

    The institutionalization of democratic norms in Africa's militaries is often lagging behind advances made in civilian institutions and civil society. In some situations, security sectors have actively aligned themselves with incumbent leaders seeking to stay in power or directly intervened in politics, thereby discrediting the entire security sector and marginalizing its role when transitions do occur. With national elections becoming increasingly routine and subject to stricter oversight, such dilemmas will continue to be front and center in Africa's political development.

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  • Africa and the Arab Spring: A New Era of Democratic Expectations

    By Africa Center for Strategic Studies | November 2011 senegal_anti-Wade_protests-300x199

    Military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau and the persistence of “big-man” politics have renewed questions over the viability of democratic governance models in Africa. These developments have overshadowed a deepening institutionalization of democratic processes in Africa over the past decade. The Arab Spring, likewise, sparked a broader debate about the legitimate claims on authority across the continent. These crosscurrents reflect an ongoing struggle for governance norms in Africa that will require active engagement from African reformers and international partners to sustain Africa's democratic trajectory.

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  • Progress and Retreat in Africa: Legislatures on the Rise?

    Senegalese parliamentBy Joel Barkan.  Journal of Democracy, 2008.

    Legislatures in Africa are becoming more assertive and securing a more equal distribution of political and decision-making power within the continent's young multi-party democracies.  Particularly notable improvements have been achieved in Kenya and Ghana and reveal 10 parameters that determine the balance of authority between branches of government.

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