Democracy cannot exist only as a slogan. Is constituent elements, and the entirety of the process must be considered in demands for “democracy,” and in efforts to bring stable democratic conditions to obtain.
Ghanaian former UN Secretary General, Kofi Anan offers an important piece today in Financial Times reflecting on the rudiments of democracy in the context of 19 upcoming, African presidential elections and the current destabilization of Ivory Coast.
Too often “democracy” functions as a slogan, lacking sufficient reflection on its constituent elements. Anan does well to provide in simple terms a holistic range of requisites and qualities for democracy to work. These include:
Democratic accountability, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
Elections are, of course, the indispensable root of democracy. But to be credible, we need to see high standards before, during, and after votes are cast. Opposition parties must be free to organise and campaign without fear. There must, as far as possible, be a level playing field among candidates. On polling day, voters must feel safe and trust the secrecy and integrity of the ballot. And when the votes have been counted the result must be accepted, no matter how disappointed the defeated candidates feel.
This list, especially key dimensions of the pre and post-election processes are very important, and often missed when dreaming if democracy.
He goes on to cite the tragedy brewing in Ivory Coast that derives from violating the simple requisite to acknowledge legitimate election results:
Too often, these conditions are not met. The worsening crisis in Ivory Coast is a prime example of abuse and its consequences. November’s election was judged well-run by domestic and international observers. Alassane Ouattara was declared a clear winner. But the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refuses to step down.
Anan develops these implications more extensively in the entire article. Gbagbo’s villainy portends an extensive threat to the hopes and future of all of Africa in the coming months.