V-Dem report identifies Seychelles as only liberal democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa
Seychelles Flag. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency
Seychelles is the only liberal democracy in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, according to a newly published Democracy Report 2023 by the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
According to the V-Dem report entitled 'Defiance in the Face of Autocratisation', "liberal democracy embodies the importance of protecting individual and minority rights against both the tyranny of the state and the tyranny of the majority."
It also "captures the horizontal methods of accountability between more or less equally standing institutions that ensure the effective checks and balances between institutions and in particular limit the exercise of executive power."
Liberal democracy is measured on three indexes - equality before the law and individual liberty, judicial constraints on the executive, and legislative constraints on the executive.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is among 15 countries with significant democratisation and is 35th overall on the ranking of 139 countries. Two other countries in the Indian Ocean region, Maldives is 72nd and Mauritius 85th.
On the history graphs of the regimes, Seychelles was an electoral autocracy from 1993 to 2012. It became an electoral democracy from 2013 to 2014 and rose to liberal democracy from 2015 to 2023.
The secretary general of the ruling Linyon Demokratik Seselwa (LDS) party, Gervais Henrie, told SNA that it should be a proud moment for every Seychellois that Seychelles, a small country, is the only liberal democracy in Sub-Saharan African region.
"For the first time since our independence, we have a president starting his mandate at State House through popular vote. This government is championing its election promise of 'Seychelles for all its children.' This is important because it means that basic rights such as freedom of assembly and free speech, collective security, and social and economic benefits will be safeguarded," he said.
Henrie added that "this ranking comes two years after the historic October 2020 election. We could have been in a better position if the majority of people had understood President Ramkalawan's message much earlier on."
V-Dem said that democratisation is when a country is making moves away from autocracy and toward democracy while autocratisation is the opposite, meaning any move away from democracy toward autocracy.
While Seychelles is on an upward trajectory, several countries have declined according to the report.
"In a decade, the level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen has deteriorated to levels last seen in 1986 – more than 35. 1986 was the year of the Chernobyl accident and the Reykjavík Summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev," the report pointed out.
It added further that advances in global levels of democracy made over the last 35 years have been wiped out and that 72 percent of the world's population, 5.7 billion people, live in autocracies by 2022. Only 1 billion people, that is 13 percent of the world's population, live in liberal democracies.
This is mainly due to the fact that "freedom of expression is deteriorating in 35 countries in 2022 - 10 years ago it was only seven countries. The government censorship of the media is worsening in 47 countries over the last 10 years and government repression of civil society organisations is worsening in 37 countries."
In Sub-Saharan Africa, a vast majority of people - 68 percent - reside in electoral autocracies, and a total of 79 percent live in autocracies.
V-Dem is an international collaboration involving almost 4,000 scholars from over 180 countries and the V-Dem Institute is hosted at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg.
It produces the largest global dataset on democracy with over 31 million data points for 202 countries from 1789 to 2022.