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The Impact of Academic Freedom in the Post-Cold War Democratic Transitions in Africa

Around the world, there’s a strong correlation between academic freedom and other elements of democracy based on the V-Dem data. But cause and effect are not so clear. The African experience makes the relationship clearer because simultaneously, and in a relatively short time, the whole continent moved from one-party to multiparty systems. Before 1990, only five African countries with universal suffrage had multiparty systems. By 1995, constitutional one-party or non-party systems were exceptions. Multiparty electoral competition alone, of course, doesn’t make a democracy. The sole purpose of elections can be to legitimise authoritarian rule and they can be rigged. It’s thus the quality of elections that matters. The V-Dem clean elections index measures absence of registration fraud, systematic irregularities, government intimidation of the opposition, vote buying, and election violence. It is a useful indication of the level of democracy in Africa.