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Since the third wave of democratization in Africa, many countries have embraced democracy: abolishing military dictatorship, revising the constitution, and adopting multi-party politics and elections. However, the continent continues to struggle with poor leadership. The government elite has not managed to respond to the needs of the citizens and promote the development agenda.
In countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Angola, the Republic of Congo, Uganda and Chad, leaders have ruled democracies for more than three decades. Even when presidents have changed, people from the same party or from both major parties tend to alternate power.
Many states – such as Tanzania, Angola, South Africa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia – are still dominated by one party. Countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Mali are ruled by two political parties that alternate power.
However, the results of the last election show the desire of the people for a new leadership. The 2020 general elections in Ghana created a historic one split up the parliament For the first time, the ruling New Patriotic Party and the main opposition (National Democratic Congress) had an equal number of seats, with a speaker elected from the opposition. For many analysts, this was an expression of the public’s desire for an end to winner-takes-all politics and better cooperation between the ruling elite.
In South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since 1994 and has won every election, has started. losing grip, especially in metropolitan cities. The party had its worst performance in the 2021 municipal elections, winning only 46% of the vote, down from 54% in the previous municipal poll.
This was the first time the ANC had failed to win a majority in an election, reflecting popular discontent with the party’s performance. Some analysts guess it may win only 40 percent of the 2024 elections and be forced into messy governing coalitions.
Similarly, in Angola, the popularity of the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola – which has ruled since independence in 1975 – is waning. Since 2008, the fortunes of the party fallen From winning an 81.6% majority in the National Assembly to only 51.2% of seats in 2022. This trend suggests that the ruling party may lose the next election in 2027.
Senegal’s July 2022 elections also saw the ruling coalition lose its absolute majority in Parliament. The coalition, including the president’s Alliance for the Republic party, won 82 the seats 165, down from the 125 he recorded in 2017. It was the first time that a coalition of a governing party lost its absolute majority in the country’s Parliament, meaning it now has to rely on other political parties to pass legislation.
In Kenya, in the August 2022 election, former Deputy President William Ruto defeated opposition leader Raila Odinga. Mr Ruto prevailed over tribal politics to secure his historic victory, despite the then president’s support for Mr Uhuru Kenyatta Odinga. Campaigning in his humble beginnings, Mr Ruto described the election as follows the battle between ordinary hustlers and ruling dynasties (the Kenyatta and Odinga families) that have ruled the country for decades. This resonated with the electorate, especially the citizens of Kenya.
Lesotho’s October 2022 election results also indicated a dramatic shift in voting preferences. After two decades of one-party dominance, voters have ousted all incumbent parties since 2012. In 2022, the Revolution for Prosperity party – formed six months before the polls and led. the foreigner Sam Matekane – won 56 seats out of 120. The Basotho General Convention took only eight seats in a strong signal that the elected could not be taken for granted.
Nigeria’s February presidential and legislative elections recently saw the emergence of a third political force in the continent’s most populous country. Many observers have described the polls as the most competitive in the country’s history, apart from the two-horse race between the ruling APC and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Peter Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, led the Labor Party to win 12 states, including President-elect Bola Tinubu’s backyard of Lagos and the federal capital, Abuja. Obi won about 25 percent of the total votes, the APC got 37 percent and the PDP 29 percent. So for the first time, the winner of the election did not get a majority of the total votes. Obi’s significant entry has shaken up Nigerian politics, offering a credible third alternative hope For many who have lost faith in APC and PDP.
These examples show the maturity of African voters’ voting tendencies. No political party can take them for granted anymore. African citizens are also clearly ready to rise above ethnic, tribal and religious considerations if the mandate emerges. The days of ruling elites are coming to an end assuming they will sweep the polls, and if the trajectory continues, most of the ruling dynasties will soon be renewed.
Enoch Randy Aikins, African Futures and Innovation Researcher, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Pretoria
(This article was first published by ISS Today, syndicate partner Premium Times. We have their permission to republish it.)
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