The the term citizen participation refers to the

The term democracy commonly refers to a
type of political system in which the people or their representatives lawfully
govern themselves, rather than being governed, say, by a military dictatorship,
totalitarian party or monarch (Keane,2006). It is based on the idea that all
citizens have the right and should have the means to participate in the decision
making processes that affect their lives and also have the power to hold the
government accountable. Also, Pennock (1979 p. 7) defines it as, “government by
the people, where liberty, equality and fraternity are secured to the greatest
possible degree and in which human capacities are developed to the utmost, by
means including free and full debate of common problems, differences and interests.”
The key role of citizens in a democracy is participation. According to Arnstein
in her article “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” the term citizen
participation refers to the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens,
presently excluded from the political and economic processes to be deliberately
included in it. In her view, the have-nots constitute the minorities (a group
of people socially alienated or segregated from the dominant forces of a society)
in the society, and therefore citizen participation in effect is the means by
which these minorities are included in the decision making process, for them to
stimulate significant social reforms which will enable tem to share in the
benefits of the affluent society. By voting in elections, debating issues,
attending community meetings, becoming involved in private and voluntary organizations,
and determining how policies are set among many others, citizen participation
is said to be achieved. Citizens also have an obligation to become informed
about public issues, to monitor the conduct of their leaders and
representatives, and to express their own opinions. According to Zakariah 1997,
in an essay he wrote in Foreign Affairs titled “The Rise of
Illiberal Democracy”, democracies around the world were surrendering to
illiberal reforms, he argues that the strands holding the traditions of
democracy and liberalism together were rapidly eroding. In his view, illiberal
democracies are increasing around the world and are increasingly limiting the
freedoms of the people they represent. He also points out that in the West,
electoral democracy and civil liberties like the freedom of speech, religion, expression
and press among many others, go hand in hand. However, around the world, the
two concepts are falling apart. He argues that democracy without constitutional
liberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic
competition, conflict, and war.


 Libya under Muammar Gaddafi practiced a form
of democracy he established in March 1977, called the JAMAHIRIYA, an Arabic term generally
translated as “state of the masses”. It was based on Gaddafi’s theories
outlined in his “Green Book”, published in 1975 titled “The Solution
of the Problem of Democracy.” With it, he promised to rescue the world from the
failures of Western democracy and Communism alike. His “Third Universal Theory”
would usher in an era of mass democracy in which people would rule themselves
directly. Qaddafi criticized elections, political parties and popular
representation. The only genuine form of democracy, he argues, is one where the
masses come together in people’s committees, popular congresses and
professional associations. Thus, the nation State of Libya was divided into
several small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” within
a State. The citizens did not have the luxury to vote in elections but his form
of government brought democracy to the doorstep of the people, basic human
rights were respected and there was a high standard of living for the Libyans.
Although perceived by the West and critics as a dictator, mainly because he did
not follow the Western criteria of practicing democracy, his system of
government translated into a great success for the Libyan people during his
tenure of office.

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state of democracy in Africa is one of the most debatable topics on the
continent. Is Africa getting more or less democratic? Is there a reason why so
many African countries are caught in between democracy and authoritarianism?
How can democracy in Africa be redesigned to better fit the reality on the
continent? What makes African democracies more distinct is because although many
countries are not doing so well in practicing democracy, there are others that
have nonetheless made significant progress towards establishing stable and
accountable multiparty systems. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa
have gone an extra mile in establishing multiparty political systems in their
countries. In other words, a significant proportion of the continent is democratising
against the odds.  It is however
important to note that while many of these states enjoy vibrant political
competition, some remain institutionally weak. Also, since democracy itself is
a foreign ideology, based on western culture and beliefs, its applicability in
Africa is quite challenging because of the difficulty in fusing the Western
system of government with the African system of government. According to Alemayehu G. Mariam in her article “The
Democracy Before Democracy in Africa”, the problem facing democracies in Africa
stems from the fact that, democracy in Africa is a different species of
democracy which has roots in African culture and history. Since African
societies are plagued by ethnic, tribal and religious conflicts which can be
solved within the framework of the traditional African institution of consensus
building, elder mediation and conciliation and not by Western style democracy
which is inappropriate for Africans because, the necessary preconditions for
such a system are not present in Africa.
Thus in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi sought to practice a form of democracy which he
felt suited his country. According to him, Western-style democracy was not
appropriate for Africa. He believed that all people must manage their country
according to the cultural and social environment and that the people of Africa
live in tribes and every tribe has a leader, so the system of elections and
political parties suits Europe and America more than it does Africa. The task
facing our representatives who draft state constitutions is thus to decide an
appropriate form of democracy, one that allows for sufficient accommodation
which enables all parties involved feel they have a stake in the system, in
order to promote accountability and economic prosperity for the African people.




The following questions have been

2.1 Can illiberal
democratic regimes be considered as democratic regimes or authoritarian regimes
with an inclination towards dictatorship?

2.2    Is
there a link between illiberal democracy and religion in Africa?

2.3 In what ways
did the Jamarihya impact the lives of the Libyan people?

2.4 What are the
prospects for democracy in Africa?



The following research objectives have been identified:

To determine whether illiberal democracies should be considered as democratic
regimes or authoritarian regimes with a tendency towards dictatorship.

To find out if there is a link between religion and
democracy based on the islamic nature of the nation state of Libya.

To analyze the the impact of the Jamarihya on the Libyan

To assertain the prospects of democracy in Africa.





This research focuses on illiberal democracy
in Africa. How far Africa as a continent has come in practicing democracy , its
prospects and challenges, therefore, the study will focus on democracy under
Gaddafi, dubbed The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya from 1977-2011.



Democracy in Africa has been shaped by the colonial powers that ran
Africa until African countries began gaining their independence in the 1960’s
and therefore, its practice has become problematic because Western style democracy
does not in any way address the needs of the African people, since it was
developed based on Western culture and beliefs. It is therefore difficult to
apply it in the African setting. This research therefore seeks to determine,
based on the cultural and social environment of African countries, the type of
democracy that is likely to be suitable for the continent.



For the purpose of this thesis, the
concept of good governance will be employed. Good governance as a concept rests
on the premise that governance is committed to making decisions which are
effective, inclusive and transparent. It is a commitment to doing the best with
the resources available within the context of the challenges facing governance.
The concept of good governance
often emerges as a model to compare ineffective economies or political bodies
with viable economies and political bodies. The concept centres on the
responsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of the
masses as opposed to select groups in society. This is because countries often
described as “most successful” are Western liberal democratic states,
concentrated in Europe and the Americas, good governance standards often
measure other state institutions against these states.

to Grindle (2004), the relevance of getting good governance comes precisely
from its relationship with the development of a country and the reduction of
poverty. Setting an agenda for reaching good governance is of the huge interest
but also a complex task, which makes this author to propose rather a “good
enough governance” agenda as a starting point. In the construction of this
“simpler” agenda, the idea is to revisit policies that have worked in
the past, set priorities in a strategically way, consider policies with greater
impact in alleviating poverty and reaching development, and look for innovative
ways of implementing such policies.

A critique of this concept however is
that there are varied definitions of what good governance exactly is or should
entail and therefore it becomes difficult to measure. Also, the measurement of
good governance is often depicted in terms of economic growth in developing
countries. The critique against this is obvious and often heard from both
academia and other supranational institutions. Despite the criticisms levelled
against this concept, it is relevant to the research because democracy cannot
flourish in the absence of good governance. One of the pre-conditions for good
governance is effective democratic institutions for democratizing the society.
Improvement of the living standard of people cannot happen where people cannot
participate in governance, human rights are not respected, information does not
flow, and civil society and the judiciary are weak.



Existing literature are particularly
focused on democracy, its basic tenets and what determines if a country is
practicing democracy or not. However, as part of this dissertation, it is imperative
to first understand what illiberal democracy is as opposed to liberal democracy
is, its characteristics and if indeed there is evidence that shows it is on the

Some books and articles relevant to this
dissertation are listed below


Fareed Zakariah in his essay “The
Rise of Illiberal Democracy”, points out that, in recent times, bigoted
or tyrannical groups all around the world seize power through democratic means
and then ignore constitutional limits, thereby denying them of  their natural rights. The general
understanding of democracy is “liberal democracy” which is a political system
marked by free and fair elections, rule of law and the respect of the basic
rights and freedoms of citizens. Separation of powers exists in order keep one
branch of government from gaining too much power. According to Zakariah, these unalienable
rights define what a true constitutional liberal democracy is. He then goes on
to argue that most democracies aren’t liberal anymore and that they have taken
the path of illiberal democracy by denying the citizens their basic rights.

In my opinion, Zakariah’s article
provides a great understanding on the flaws of democracies around the world. The
current state of democracy in the world is gradually shifting more towards the illiberal
trend, where governments although gain power through free and fair elections,
follow some of the basic tenets of democracy, they curtail certain rights and
freedoms of their citizens, like the freedom of association.


Also in his book “The Future Of Freedom : Illiberal
Democracy At Home And Abroad”, he argues that twentieth century was
marked by two broad trends: the regulation of capitalism and the deregulation
of democracy. He also makes a point that in recent times, public respect for politics
and political system in every advanced society is at an all time low. This is
because, there is a lack of trust among the people and the government which can
be attributed to a corrupt and flawed electoral process heavily influenced by
the way the image of the running candidate is projected. Often, as a leader who
would cater for the needs of the citizens, ensure that their rights and
responsibilities are respected and ultimately make the society a good place to
be. The opposite is true when they are elected into office. Constitutional provisions
are ignored, press freedom and freedoms of the citizens are curtailed among

On the rise of illiberal democracies in
non- Western societies, zakaria poses a question as to whether democracy
produces as Islamic theocracy. Theocracy is the belief that one religion should
be absolutely culturally dominant. Islam is a religion that wants to be very
firmly established. It wants to be the official religion of a nation, or
empire. It rejects the notion that politics should be conducted without
reference to religion, and it rejects the notion that various different
religions should be treated equally. As a result, many of their practices do
not conform to the western style democracies as since their religion is fused
with democracy.


Alemayehu G. Mariam in her article “The
Democracy Before Democracy In Africa”, she states that African democracy
is rooted in African culture and history and that before Africa can have a
political democracy, it must have economic democracy. Widespread poverty, low
per capita incomes, a tiny middle class and the absence of a democratic civic
culture render the system of western style democracy incompatible with African
realities. Liberal democracy could come to Africa only after significant
economic development has been achieved


Dahl’s book titled “on democracy” also gives an account of what an ideal
democracy is and whether there is such a thing as in ideal democracy in the
world. According to him, five criteria exists which describe a democratic form
of government. Effective participation, where citizens are able to contribute
in the decision making process and its outcome. Secondly, enlightened understanding
where he defines it as ” Each citizen ought to have adequate and equal
opportunities for discovering and validating (within the time permitted by the
need for a decision) the choice on the matter to be decided that would best
serve the citizen’s interests” (Dahl 1989: 112).  Voting equality at the decisive stage where
each citizen must be ensured an equal opportunity to express a choice that
would be equal to the choice expressed by other citizens. That is all citizens
should be equal before the law. Control of the agenda which talks about the the
power vested in the citizens to decide how matters are to be placed on the
agenda by democratic process and lastly, inclusion which allows for all eligible
citizens to be included in the decision making process in the society.





This data will rely on secondary data in
the form of books and journal articles. In addition, reports and statistics
from institutions and NGO’s relevant to the topic will be employed.



The method that will be used in this dissertation
will be purely qualitative which will comprise primary and secondary data. Since
primary data is concerned with obtaining 
data from first hand experience, I would be, through purposive sampling,
conduct elite interviews with between 5-10 International Relations Scholars.

Secondary data I will obtain from desk
reviewing existing literature on the concept and by an analysis of existing
indices of democracy which I will get from The Rule Of Law Index by the World
Justice Project, Governance Index and The Social Progress index by the World
Bank and lastly the Human Development Index.



The study is in four chapters. Chapter
one covers the research design. It entails the background to the study,
statement of the research problem, the research objectives of the study, the
research questions of the study, the scope of the study, the significance of
the study, the hypothesis, theoretical framework, literature review, and
methodology. Chapter two discusses Democracy Africa. Chapter Three discusses
Democracy in Libya under Gaddafi, its merits and demerits and also how it
affected the relationship Libya had with the west.  Chapter Four comprises the summary of
findings, conclusions, and some recommendations with regards to the research