While Kim Jong Un might disagreed, democracy is widely regarded as a universal value – it is a system of political organisation that enshrines the right to self-determination. Recent centuries have seen a wave of democratisation relative to historical trends, with democracies replacing dictatorships and other autocratic forms of governance in nations across the globe. Yet many of these democracies have also struggled to put down strong roots. Backsliding is common and consolidation arduous. A few spots of bad luck and a fledging democracy like Bangladesh or even Hungary can start to look fake. How can we promote the maturation of democracies? Samuel Amin from the University of Warwick joins regular host Dr Mark Fabian to share his insights from his PhD research on Ghana, especially the role of the national peace council there. Samuel emphasises the role of institutions in democratic consolidation, and that many of these institutions will be specific to local contexts rather than universally useful models that can be exported to other countries. The national peace council, for example, makes use of cultural narratives of Ghanaians as peaceful people, and norms of respecting religious and ethnic elders, to facilitate conflict resolution and respect for liberal-democratic institutions like courts and the electoral commission. The episode is optimistic and hopeful, with Samuel concluding with some positive thoughts about the future of democracy in West Africa.
Samuel’s student page at Warwick: https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/anim/
Follow Sam on twitter: @animksam
Nick Cheeseman’s Democracy in Africa: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/democracy-in-africa/3FFB8B40059192D449B77A402ADC82A1
Kate Baldwin’s book on traditional African chiefs in democratic africa: https://politicalscience.yale.edu/publications/paradox-traditional-chiefs-democratic-africa
Dominique Burbidge’s papers on East African democracy: https://law.strathmore.edu/dr-dominic-burbidge/
Lisa Weeden’s book Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power, and Performance in Yemen: https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/P/bo5893513.html