Aga Khan University’s Dr Awiti shares East African Institute’s Youth Survey findings on Elections & Democracy

Youth appear to honour and respect elections but despise the people they elect.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is flawed to the extent that it conceives of elections as the embodiment of democracy.

Speaking at the East Africa Dialogue Series is Dr. Alex Awiti, Director of the East African Institute at the Aga Khan University.
Speaking at the East Africa Dialogue Series is Dr. Alex Awiti, Director of the East African Institute at the Aga Khan University.

Elections undermine democratic processes
Jul. 05, 2016, 4:00 am
By ALEX AWITI

A survey conducted by the East African Institute of the Aga Khan University showed that between 68 and 90 per cent of East Africa’s youth held positive views about democracy and would participate in elections. However, trust in politicians was as low as 40 per cent.

Waning trust in politicians and government is not unique to East African youth. There is an emerging and worrying trend of mistrust between citizens and government.

According to the Pew Research Center, fewer than 30 per cent of Americans have expressed trust in the federal government in every major national poll conducted between 2007 and 2015. Similarly, a recent World Values Survey, which polled 73,000 people in 57 countries, revealed that trust in government and institutions of democracy such as political parties has reached an historical low.

The perceptions of East Africa’s youth underscore a deep and concerning contradiction — passion and apathy for politics. Essentially, youth are enthusiastic about the political process but deeply distrusting of the outcomes of political participation. Clearly the youth appear to honour and respect elections but despise the people they elect, the politicians and the governments they form.

Moreover, youth trust family and religious institutions more than they trust government or politicians.

The youth are a consequential majority in every sense — political and socio-economic. About 80 per cent of the estimated 146 million East Africans (excluding South Sudanese), are below the age of 35. How youth engage in the electoral process, and their perception and confidence in the political process have strong political and socio-economic implications for the future of East Africa.

But the magnitude of mistrust in politics and government by citizens must lead us to question or wonder if elections are the best mechanism for transforming the collective will of the people into tangible social or economic outcomes. Elections are even less believable as expressions of the collective will of citizens especially when fear mongering, misinformation and manipulation in the electioneering period inundate voters.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is flawed to the extent that it conceives of elections as the embodiment of democracy.

Elections can cause all kinds of outcomes like Brexit and the possibility of a Trump presidency. In Africa elections have been associated with violence, ethnic cleansing, political instability and economic decline.

Globally, there is a growing perception that elections are gravely antiquated tools, which could undermine democracy if they are not enhanced with more enlightened forms of public participation.

Source: The Star | Elections undermine democratic processes


About East African Institute at Aga Khan University

AKU’s new Nairobi-based East African Institute (EAI) launched its first major project in 2014, aiming to help the region deal with issues related to youth, urbanization, urban food systems, economic growth and inequality and the oil, gas and mining industries by fostering evidence-based and inclusive dialogue.

Supported by funding from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation Canada and Canada’s International Development Research Centre, the Institute’s Dialogue Series kicked off with a focus on young people ages 18 to 35 – a critical area given East Africa’s exceptionally large youth population.

First, EAI commissioned a survey of young people in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. Then it gathered 200 young people involved with youth initiatives and organizations from across the region to discuss the findings. Next, the Institute plans to release the data to the public and organize discussion forums in each country, followed by a dialogue with regional policymakers and experts in the capital of the East African Community, Arusha, Tanzania.

“Our goal is to develop and distribute data and evidence and stimulate productive conversations.

 

We want to give East Africans from all backgrounds a voice, and get everyone thinking about how we can work toward common goals.

 

The East African Institute can be a thought leader in East Africa, this is just the first step.”

 

– Dr. Alex Awiti, Director, East African Institute at Aga Khan University

Source: Aga Khan University/ | Sparking Dialogues that Make a Difference


About the Aga Khan University

The Aga Khan University is a unique hybrid: an institution of academic excellence that is also an agent for social development. The University prepares men and women to lead change in their societies and to thrive in the global economy.

Guided by the principles of impact, quality, relevance and access, the University has campuses and programmes in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. It operates teaching hospitals in Karachi and Nairobi, Schools of Nursing and Midwifery,Medical Colleges, Institutes for Educational Development, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations , the Graduate School of Media and Communications, the East African Instituteand the Institute for the Study of Human Development.

AKU also runs an Examination Board and manages the French Medical Institute for Children in Kabul, Afghanistan.

 


Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali


Author: ismailimail

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