Since World War II democracy has gained widespread acceptance. If we see Africa in the 20th and 21st century, the whole African continent was colonized by European. Ironically, the imperial powers also began to promote democracy in this period.

“Twenty-six sub-Saharan countries in Africa had gained independence by the late 1960s: the territories of the former French West and Equatorial Africa, British West and East Africa, and the Central African states of Malawi, Zambia, and Congo”.

After their independence, African union formally (1963-2002) intergovernmental organization of African states established in 2002 as a descendant to OAU; the main aims of this organization was to promote the economic development, stability in the political sector and also increase cooperation in its members state (55). This is considering as a way to democracy in this continent. Even after the establishment of this forum democracy is still weak in most African states except the revolutionary state like South Africa and Zambia.

European states had a capitalist system in the early 20th century. It was the First World War that put the problem of democracy directly in front of Europe. The three land-based Monarchs:  Habsburg, Ottoman and Romanov and moved out and this period was considered as the birth of democracy in Europe.  Two major war fought by millions of people radically altered and effect on the map was immediate. The massive dislocation caused by the war changed the political face of Europe. The old monarchs replaced and opened the way for the creation of republics and the mass participation of the public in politics.

It also created the conditions for the emergence of many more nation-states, including Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. Although the forms of some of these nation-states changed subsequently, they were central to the realization of national self-determination in Europe. After World War II first major development that contributes to democracy was the formation of the constitutional court and another major step that is considered as the major contribution was the formation of the European Union. Formation of EU allows several member states a forum where they can supervise the institution democratically and also allow member states to cooperate and share in a unified economic and monetary system with each other. The main purpose of the EU was to promote peace and equality which is the core element of democracy.

Challenges for Europe:

Being a democratic continent still, Europe is facing several problems, the intensity of these problems is low but some eastern European (weak countries) is facing a high level:

  • Poverty and Unemployment is a major challenge in Europe “Euro stat indicated that there were higher unemployment rates for people aged 20–29 and people aged 55–64, those citizens with limited education, and migrants to the EU”.
  • Another challenge that Europe is facing from the start of this century till now is an economic crisis. Europe 2020 strategy was introduced for: smart, sustainable and inclusive growth of EU however, it is considered as a recovery plan to handle the economic crisis, and also identify and resolve the structural weaknesses of Europe. The Commission declared that European economy had had challenges long before the economic crisis burst out and added that such structural challenges included (among others) a relatively low average growth rate compared to other regions around the world, low levels of investments in research and development, limited implementation of information and communications technologies, cultural reluctance to prioritize and embrace innovations, and a weakened business environment as well as existing obstacles to finding risk capital and entering new markets.

Challenges for Africa:

The core challenges that African states are facing are:

  • In Africa, Statehood was imposed on most African states that is a big challenge for OAU and democracy in this continent.
  • Most of the African states are politically and economically undeveloped and weak underdevelopment that causes instability and extreme poverty. if we see the most democratic state of this continent “South Africa its economy still overwhelmingly dominated (via control over value chains as much as ownership) by a small minority of whites Despite black advances, whites continue to enjoy strong relative advantage”.
  • Some countries are experiencing inequality/ discrimination like black people are suffering in South Africa and Policies based on equal-employment (or positive action) is changed. “Blacks came to predominate in state employment even at the highest levels, and white dominance and ownership in the private sector were diluted by black economic empowerment. Such policies drove visible changes in the racial and class structure.
  • Another big challenge to Africa is poverty “the so-called poorest of the poor” Because of racism in most of the region poor are getting poor and rich becoming richer. Though OAU is there still no positive actions are seen in ground level.
  • Most states are experiencing a phase of civil wars, Continuous conflict based on race, religion.

It’s difficult to compare democracy prevails in Europe with the weaker democracy of Africa. Both continents have similar issues like poverty and institutional development whereas both continents have different challenges related to institutional development and regional circumstances, those are:

  • Improve the effectiveness of the AU and pin down the role of regional powers like South Africa, Ghana, etc is a major challenge for Africa.
  • “According to the Global Competitiveness Index 2013 from the World Economic Forum, the EU is still miles ahead of the BRICS when it comes to key factors like infrastructure, higher education and business sophistication. This lack of development in some of the most essential market characteristics will keep the BRICS from taking over the EU’s top position in the world market in the short to medium term”.
  • The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) aims to alter the existing institutions of European Union (in order to Decentralize the “Brussels’ bureaucracy”) to create a full democracy by sharing the powers with regional assemblies, national Parliaments, and municipal councils to form a sovereign Parliament is another future issue in Europe.

In short, the whole world whether countries are from Europe or Africa are facing institutional problems that create a gap and such gaps always contribute to weakening the state itself and its image in the international arena.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.
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Amna Nisar Abbasi has done Diploma in Peace and Development Studies II Linnaeus University Vaxjo Sweden. She has also done M.Sc in Defence and Strategic Studies in 2008-2009 from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad Pakistan. She is working as an Assistant Research Officer in Institute of Regional Studies Islamabad Pakistan. Currently, currently studying in Masters of International Affairs from Linnaeus University Vaxjo Sweden.