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Why Africa needs a new democracy

By Tom Nuttall  

Richard Dowden, writing in the new issue of Prospect, argues that the latest round of electoral failues in Nigeria, Kenya and now Zimbabwe shows that western-style “winner-takes-all” democracy is not suited to African states. Competing ethnic and linguistic groups, arbitrary borders—the legacy of colonial rule—and a lack of democratic tradition create an climate unsuited to electoral systems in which one group takes complete power at the expense of others. What is needed instead, suggestes Dowden, is a new, “African” democracy, perhaps one that approaches a form of proportional representation in which all groups are accorded a seat at the top…

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