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THE STATE OF EAST AFRICA REPORT SERIES

The State of Democracy in East Africa

All East African countries are nominally democracies, the key indicator of which is the holding of regular elections, despite whether these have been marred by violence, allegations of vote-rigging and exclusion of candidates or voters. Citizens have eagerly awaited and participated in these elections, and even if they might have sometimes disappointed from a credibility perspective they remain a positive indicator of progress.

But democracy is much more than holding regular elections and pronouncing them to be ‘free and fair’. It comprises many other dimensions which, when examined together, give a more complete picture of the state of democracy in East Africa. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual ‘

Democracy Index’ offers such a picture. The report recognizes four regime types ranging from ‘full democracies’ on one end of the spectrum, to ‘authoritarian regimes’ on the other. Between the two extremes are the ‘flawed democracies’ and ‘hybrid regimes’. A total of 167 countries are covered by this report.

The March 2013 report titled ‘Democracy at a Standstill’ described the progress of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa was described as ‘slow and uneven’. Three of the East African countries were recognized as ‘hybrid regimes’ and two as ‘authoritarian regimes.

Country

Rank

Overall Score

I.
Electoral Process and Pluralism

II. Functioning of Government

III.
Political Participation

IV.
Political Culture

V.
Civil Liberties

Classification

Tanzania

81

5.88

7.42

4.64

6.11

5.63

5.59

Hybrid

Uganda

94

5.16

5.67

3.57

4.44

6.25

5.88

Hybrid

Kenya

104

4.71

3.92

4.29

4.44

5.63

5.29

Hybrid

Burundi

125

3.60

3.00

2.57

3.89

5.00

3.53

Authoritarian

Rwanda

132

3.36

0.83

4.64

2.22

5.00

4.12

Authoritarian

The EIU report also provides the overall scores for 2006 to 2012 that shows the progress of democratic performance in East Africa during the period. The trend for sub-Saharan Africa is also provided for reference.

The region’s performance is varied with two trends worth noting – the upward rise for Tanzania and the steep decline for Burundi. However given the ranking of the East African countries in the 2012

Democracy Index relative to the rest of the world, there is a significant gap to close before the democratic credentials of the region can be put at par with those, such as Mauritius (18th globally) that ranked higher.