The term democracy commonly refers to atype of political system in which the people or their representatives lawfullygovern themselves, rather than being governed, say, by a military dictatorship,totalitarian party or monarch (Keane,2006).
It is based on the idea that allcitizens have the right and should have the means to participate in the decisionmaking processes that affect their lives and also have the power to hold thegovernment accountable. Also, Pennock (1979 p. 7) defines it as, “government bythe people, where liberty, equality and fraternity are secured to the greatestpossible degree and in which human capacities are developed to the utmost, bymeans including free and full debate of common problems, differences and interests.”The key role of citizens in a democracy is participation. According to Arnsteinin her article “A Ladder of Citizen Participation” the term citizenparticipation refers to the redistribution of power that enables the have-not citizens,presently excluded from the political and economic processes to be deliberatelyincluded in it. In her view, the have-nots constitute the minorities (a groupof people socially alienated or segregated from the dominant forces of a society)in the society, and therefore citizen participation in effect is the means bywhich these minorities are included in the decision making process, for them tostimulate significant social reforms which will enable tem to share in thebenefits 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 participationis said to be achieved.
Citizens also have an obligation to become informedabout public issues, to monitor the conduct of their leaders andrepresentatives, and to express their own opinions. According to Zakariah 1997,in an essay he wrote in Foreign Affairs titled “The Rise ofIlliberal Democracy”, democracies around the world were surrendering toilliberal reforms, he argues that the strands holding the traditions ofdemocracy and liberalism together were rapidly eroding. In his view, illiberaldemocracies are increasing around the world and are increasingly limiting thefreedoms of the people they represent.
He also points out that in the West,electoral democracy and civil liberties like the freedom of speech, religion, expressionand press among many others, go hand in hand. However, around the world, thetwo concepts are falling apart. He argues that democracy without constitutionalliberalism is producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethniccompetition, conflict, and war.
Libya under Muammar Gaddafi practiced a formof democracy he established in March 1977, called the JAMAHIRIYA, an Arabic term generallytranslated as “state of the masses”. It was based on Gaddafi’s theoriesoutlined in his “Green Book”, published in 1975 titled “The Solutionof the Problem of Democracy.” With it, he promised to rescue the world from thefailures of Western democracy and Communism alike.
His “Third Universal Theory”would usher in an era of mass democracy in which people would rule themselvesdirectly. Qaddafi criticized elections, political parties and popularrepresentation. The only genuine form of democracy, he argues, is one where themasses come together in people’s committees, popular congresses andprofessional associations. Thus, the nation State of Libya was divided intoseveral small communities that were essentially “mini-autonomous States” withina State. The citizens did not have the luxury to vote in elections but his formof government brought democracy to the doorstep of the people, basic humanrights 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 didnot follow the Western criteria of practicing democracy, his system ofgovernment translated into a great success for the Libyan people during histenure of office.
1.0RESEARCH PROBLEM Thestate of democracy in Africa is one of the most debatable topics on thecontinent. Is Africa getting more or less democratic? Is there a reason why somany African countries are caught in between democracy and authoritarianism?How can democracy in Africa be redesigned to better fit the reality on thecontinent? What makes African democracies more distinct is because although manycountries are not doing so well in practicing democracy, there are others thathave nonetheless made significant progress towards establishing stable andaccountable multiparty systems. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria and South Africahave gone an extra mile in establishing multiparty political systems in theircountries. In other words, a significant proportion of the continent is democratisingagainst the odds.
It is howeverimportant to note that while many of these states enjoy vibrant politicalcompetition, some remain institutionally weak. Also, since democracy itself isa foreign ideology, based on western culture and beliefs, its applicability inAfrica is quite challenging because of the difficulty in fusing the Westernsystem of government with the African system of government. According to Alemayehu G. Mariam in her article “TheDemocracy Before Democracy in Africa”, the problem facing democracies in Africastems from the fact that, democracy in Africa is a different species ofdemocracy which has roots in African culture and history. Since Africansocieties are plagued by ethnic, tribal and religious conflicts which can besolved within the framework of the traditional African institution of consensusbuilding, elder mediation and conciliation and not by Western style democracywhich is inappropriate for Africans because, the necessary preconditions forsuch a system are not present in Africa.Thus in Libya, Muammar Gaddafi sought to practice a form of democracy which hefelt suited his country.
According to him, Western-style democracy was notappropriate for Africa. He believed that all people must manage their countryaccording to the cultural and social environment and that the people of Africalive in tribes and every tribe has a leader, so the system of elections andpolitical parties suits Europe and America more than it does Africa. The taskfacing our representatives who draft state constitutions is thus to decide anappropriate form of democracy, one that allows for sufficient accommodationwhich enables all parties involved feel they have a stake in the system, inorder to promote accountability and economic prosperity for the African people. 2.0 RESEARCH QUESTIONSThe following questions have beenidentified: 2.1 Can illiberaldemocratic regimes be considered as democratic regimes or authoritarian regimeswith an inclination towards dictatorship?2.
2 Isthere a link between illiberal democracy and religion in Africa?2.3 In what waysdid the Jamarihya impact the lives of the Libyan people?2.4 What are theprospects for democracy in Africa? 3.0 RESEARCH OBJECTIVESThe following research objectives have been identified:3.1 To determine whether illiberal democracies should be considered as democraticregimes or authoritarian regimes with a tendency towards dictatorship.
3.2 To find out if there is a link between religion anddemocracy based on the islamic nature of the nation state of Libya.3.3 To analyze the the impact of the Jamarihya on the Libyanpeople.3.
4 To assertain the prospects of democracy in Africa. 4.0SCOPE OF THE STUDYThis research focuses on illiberal democracyin Africa. How far Africa as a continent has come in practicing democracy , itsprospects and challenges, therefore, the study will focus on democracy underGaddafi, dubbed The Great Socialist People’s Libyan ArabJamahiriya from 1977-2011. 5.
0RATIONALE OF THE STUDY Democracy in Africa has been shaped by the colonial powers that ranAfrica until African countries began gaining their independence in the 1960’sand therefore, its practice has become problematic because Western style democracydoes not in any way address the needs of the African people, since it wasdeveloped based on Western culture and beliefs. It is therefore difficult toapply it in the African setting. This research therefore seeks to determine,based on the cultural and social environment of African countries, the type ofdemocracy that is likely to be suitable for the continent. 6.0CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKFor the purpose of this thesis, theconcept of good governance will be employed. Good governance as a concept restson the premise that governance is committed to making decisions which areeffective, inclusive and transparent.
It is a commitment to doing the best withthe resources available within the context of the challenges facing governance.The concept of good governanceoften emerges as a model to compare ineffective economies or political bodieswith viable economies and political bodies. The concept centres on theresponsibility of governments and governing bodies to meet the needs of themasses as opposed to select groups in society. This is because countries oftendescribed as “most successful” are Western liberal democratic states,concentrated in Europe and the Americas, good governance standards oftenmeasure other state institutions against these states.
Accordingto Grindle (2004), the relevance of getting good governance comes preciselyfrom its relationship with the development of a country and the reduction ofpoverty. Setting an agenda for reaching good governance is of the huge interestbut also a complex task, which makes this author to propose rather a “goodenough governance” agenda as a starting point. In the construction of this”simpler” agenda, the idea is to revisit policies that have worked inthe past, set priorities in a strategically way, consider policies with greaterimpact in alleviating poverty and reaching development, and look for innovativeways of implementing such policies.A critique of this concept however isthat there are varied definitions of what good governance exactly is or shouldentail and therefore it becomes difficult to measure.
Also, the measurement ofgood governance is often depicted in terms of economic growth in developingcountries. The critique against this is obvious and often heard from bothacademia and other supranational institutions. Despite the criticisms levelledagainst this concept, it is relevant to the research because democracy cannotflourish in the absence of good governance. One of the pre-conditions for goodgovernance is effective democratic institutions for democratizing the society.Improvement of the living standard of people cannot happen where people cannotparticipate in governance, human rights are not respected, information does notflow, and civil society and the judiciary are weak. 7.
0LITERATURE REVIEWExisting literature are particularlyfocused on democracy, its basic tenets and what determines if a country ispracticing democracy or not. However, as part of this dissertation, it is imperativeto first understand what illiberal democracy is as opposed to liberal democracyis, its characteristics and if indeed there is evidence that shows it is on therise.Some books and articles relevant to thisdissertation are listed below Fareed Zakariah in his essay “TheRise of Illiberal Democracy”, points out that, in recent times, bigotedor tyrannical groups all around the world seize power through democratic meansand then ignore constitutional limits, thereby denying them of their natural rights. The generalunderstanding of democracy is “liberal democracy” which is a political systemmarked by free and fair elections, rule of law and the respect of the basicrights and freedoms of citizens.
Separation of powers exists in order keep onebranch of government from gaining too much power. According to Zakariah, these unalienablerights define what a true constitutional liberal democracy is. He then goes onto argue that most democracies aren’t liberal anymore and that they have takenthe path of illiberal democracy by denying the citizens their basic rights. In my opinion, Zakariah’s articleprovides a great understanding on the flaws of democracies around the world. Thecurrent state of democracy in the world is gradually shifting more towards the illiberaltrend, where governments although gain power through free and fair elections,follow some of the basic tenets of democracy, they curtail certain rights andfreedoms of their citizens, like the freedom of association. Also in his book “The Future Of Freedom : IlliberalDemocracy At Home And Abroad”, he argues that twentieth century wasmarked by two broad trends: the regulation of capitalism and the deregulationof democracy. He also makes a point that in recent times, public respect for politicsand political system in every advanced society is at an all time low. This isbecause, there is a lack of trust among the people and the government which canbe attributed to a corrupt and flawed electoral process heavily influenced bythe way the image of the running candidate is projected.
Often, as a leader whowould cater for the needs of the citizens, ensure that their rights andresponsibilities are respected and ultimately make the society a good place tobe. The opposite is true when they are elected into office. Constitutional provisionsare ignored, press freedom and freedoms of the citizens are curtailed amongothers.On the rise of illiberal democracies innon- Western societies, zakaria poses a question as to whether democracyproduces as Islamic theocracy. Theocracy is the belief that one religion shouldbe absolutely culturally dominant. Islam is a religion that wants to be veryfirmly established. It wants to be the official religion of a nation, orempire. It rejects the notion that politics should be conducted withoutreference to religion, and it rejects the notion that various differentreligions should be treated equally.
As a result, many of their practices donot conform to the western style democracies as since their religion is fusedwith democracy. Alemayehu G. Mariam in her article “TheDemocracy Before Democracy In Africa”, she states that African democracyis rooted in African culture and history and that before Africa can have apolitical democracy, it must have economic democracy. Widespread poverty, lowper capita incomes, a tiny middle class and the absence of a democratic civicculture render the system of western style democracy incompatible with Africanrealities. Liberal democracy could come to Africa only after significanteconomic development has been achieved RobertDahl’s book titled “on democracy” also gives an account of what an idealdemocracy is and whether there is such a thing as in ideal democracy in theworld. According to him, five criteria exists which describe a democratic formof government. Effective participation, where citizens are able to contributein the decision making process and its outcome. Secondly, enlightened understandingwhere he defines it as ” Each citizen ought to have adequate and equalopportunities for discovering and validating (within the time permitted by theneed for a decision) the choice on the matter to be decided that would bestserve the citizen’s interests” (Dahl 1989: 112).
Voting equality at the decisive stage whereeach citizen must be ensured an equal opportunity to express a choice thatwould be equal to the choice expressed by other citizens. That is all citizensshould be equal before the law. Control of the agenda which talks about the thepower vested in the citizens to decide how matters are to be placed on theagenda by democratic process and lastly, inclusion which allows for all eligiblecitizens to be included in the decision making process in the society.
7.0SOURCES OF DATAThis data will rely on secondary data inthe form of books and journal articles. In addition, reports and statisticsfrom institutions and NGO’s relevant to the topic will be employed. 8.0RESEARCH METHODOLOGYThe method that will be used in this dissertationwill be purely qualitative which will comprise primary and secondary data.
Sinceprimary 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 deskreviewing existing literature on the concept and by an analysis of existingindices of democracy which I will get from The Rule Of Law Index by the WorldJustice Project, Governance Index and The Social Progress index by the WorldBank and lastly the Human Development Index. 9.0ARRANGEMENT OF CHAPTERSThe study is in four chapters. Chapterone covers the research design. It entails the background to the study,statement of the research problem, the research objectives of the study, theresearch questions of the study, the scope of the study, the significance ofthe study, the hypothesis, theoretical framework, literature review, andmethodology.
Chapter two discusses Democracy Africa. Chapter Three discussesDemocracy in Libya under Gaddafi, its merits and demerits and also how itaffected the relationship Libya had with the west. Chapter Four comprises the summary offindings, conclusions, and some recommendations with regards to the researchtopic.