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Original scientific paper

The state of democracy in Africa: democratic decline or autocracy?

Tope Shola Akinyetun orcid id ; Lagos State University of Education, Lagos State, Nigeria

Full text: english pdf 630 Kb

page 89-115

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Many African states experienced democratic transition following the third wave of democratization that spread across the region in the 1990s. Such democratic states became characterized by multiparty elections, tolerance for opposition tolerance, media freedom, protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. However, recent trends show that democratic growth has stalled while its gains are short-lived in many states. This is evidenced in the rise in third termism, constitutional coups, military coups and digital authoritarianism that plagues the continent – suggesting a wave of democratic relapse and autocracy. One is therefore poised to ask what the state of democracy in Africa is and what trends and practices have led to a general decline in levels of democracy. To this end, this paper assesses the incidence of democratic recession in Africa by adopting a descriptive and analytical approach that relies on secondary data sourced from peer-reviewed journal articles, reports, briefs and internet sources. It was found that the decline in democratization, otherwise democratic relapse heralds an epoch of democratic instability and entrenched autocracy in the continent. This is not unconnected with the spate of bad governance, violent electoral contestation, digital repression and widespread violation of human rights that is prevalent on the continent. It was therefore recommended that priority be given to good governance, the strengthening of state institutions and tolerance for opposition.


authoritarianism; election; governance; military coup; third termism

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