Changing Politics

  • Carlos Lopes


The world is observing the limits of representational democracy and the faith on parties as the pillars of political competitive processes. The emergence of social media activism and contestation of elected powers with massive popular mobilisation have shaken stable democracies and opened the possibility for populism to take root. Africans are not immune to such debates. In countries as far apart as Tunisia, Niger, Egypt, Togo, Gambia, Mozambique, Burkina Faso, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, popular uprisings oblige constitutional powers to retreat and make concessions that were difficult to consider just few years back. Elections’ integrity and electronic electoral systems are at the heart of new forms of dispute. The discussion about the nature of Africa’s transformation is becoming polarised between two interpretations of political systems. In the past such polarisation was between liberal and socialist prints; we then divided countries between liberal and democratic or dictatorships, whereas today the tendency is to divide between developmental states with an authoritarian bend versus open democracies that, unfortunately, often produce neo-patrimonial or rent-seeking elites. Africans are constantly interrogated about whether they prefer development or democracy to come first.


External influence Peace Conflict Democracy Polity Social cohesion Elections Integrity Transformation 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Lopes
    • 1
  1. 1.Mandela School of Public GovernanceUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa

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