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One-party political models and realpolitik – Opinion – The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News

Without a doubt, Abraham Lincoln’s characterization of democracy, legally founded on the ideals of equality, liberty and freedom, as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, has stood the test of time and is the prevailing global political orthodoxy.

Nevertheless, only a fraction of the 193 member states of the United Nations practice “full democracy”; meaning that civil liberties and political freedoms are respected in name and deed. It means that the political culture supports robust democratic principles and that effective government checks and balances, an independent judiciary and independent media are the norm rather than the exception.

According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index (2023), 14 percent of countries worldwide are full democracies; 50 percent are flawed democracies; 34 percent are hybrid regimes and 59 percent are outright authoritarian regimes.

Historically, the origins of democracy date back several millennia to the Athenian Greeks in the 5th century BC, the Babylonian Phoenicians (modern Lebanon) in 1100 BC and ancient Mesopotamia (Iraq), insofar as they had some form of representative practiced democracy.

Philosophically, therefore, the innate, legitimate and rational human desire for self-determination through the freely chosen representatives of a person or people is fully consistent with the salient idea of ​​democracy.

In this sense, full democracy is a super attractive political model, because people have a direct or indirect participatory interest in governance, the management of state affairs and decisions that directly or indirectly affect their lives.

Turning to the political dynamics of the 21st century, when democracy is characterized as government of the people, by the people and for the people, which people exactly? In the context of multi-political party models such as Nigeria, South Africa, Britain and the US, is democratic governance consistently in the demonstrable interests of all citizens or does it tend to be parochial towards party political allies and loyalists?

Is multiparty democracy the panacea for all political dilemmas? Are countries like China and Rwanda beacons of anarchy because they are nation states with one party or one dominant political party, or is it the opposite? Does it inexorably follow that one party’s political models are contrary to the safety and well-being of citizens, economic renaissance and national development?

Should it be important to protect overarching national and geostrategic interests whether a country is defined by a monopolitical party model or a multipolitical party model? This paper aims to engage these creators simultaneously by examining historical and existing case studies from around the world.

No discussion of these issues will be complete without examining the Latin concept of quid pro quo (something for something). Contextually, the concept is applicable in diplomatic, economic, legal and socio-political environments.

Here the argument is hypothetically formulated as follows: a group of individuals in country A, adopting a multi-party democratic model, invest their efforts, resources and time to register a political party with the ideological objectives of economic development, employment recovery, national security, low taxes, protection of the national interest and zero tolerance for corruption.

They come to power after gaining a two-thirds majority in 67 percent of the country’s states and provinces; which, by the way, is an impressively high threshold. The losing opposition parties are withering away because they have lost their political resources. They feel cheated out of power and seek to directly and indirectly sabotage the efforts of the winning political party, while exploiting latent ethnic, religious, security and tribal divides! Invariably, transformative national development is hampered!

The counterargument in country B is formulated with exactly the same ideological objectives as country A. The special exception is that in country B the prevailing political orthodoxy is a one-party state, albeit one with an internal democracy in which individuals can compete freely. for positions within that monolithic political party.

The question that arises in this scenario, based on the sole criterion of ideologically pure objectives, is therefore whether Country A’s multi-party democratic model is inherently better than Country B’s single-party democratic model, or vice versa? The answer is again no, purely based on the criterion of ideological objectives which, in this example, are precise.

If the philosophical answer is no, why do some countries have a multi-party political model and others a single political party model? This is essentially due to the fact of sovereignty, and its exercise, which gives each independent nation the latitude to determine which political model best suits its unique circumstances, given its culture, historical antecedents and socio-political ambitions.

Rwanda illustrates this point. The country has been ruled by one dominant political party, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), led by Paul Kagame, for thirty years since 1994, after a genocidal civil war that claimed approximately a million lives! Ideologically, the country is focused on national peace, reconciliation and socio-economic growth.

According to the World Bank’s Human Capital Index (HCI), Rwanda scores 0.38, which is slightly above average for low-income countries, but below the Sub-Saharan average. Moreover, despite difficult domestic and external factors, the country’s robust economy achieved a growth rate of 7.6 percent in the first, second and third quarters of 2023.

The Bank expects a resilient GDP growth rate averaging 7.2 percent in 2024 and 2026. Furthermore, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), which ranks 180 countries on a scale of 0 to 100 (with 0 being highly corrupt and 100 very clean). ), worldwide; rated Rwanda at 53/100 in 2023.

China and Russia are striking mega-examples of nation states with one dominant political party. Both countries are economic power centers, nuclear superpowers and permanent members of the UN Security Council with veto power. For example, China is run by the Chinese Communist Party, and has been for decades! The country’s ideology is defined as socialism with “uniquely” Chinese characteristics.

The country’s HCI stands at 0.7, a GDP rate of $17.96 trillion in 2022 and an unemployment rate of 5 percent in 2023. The country’s GDP grew by 5.2 percent in 2023, surpassing the official estimates of 5 percent per year. The country’s Transparency Index CPI is estimated at 42/100 in 2023.

Examples of nation states that use multi-party political models are Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, etc. Nigeria uses a presidential system of government based on the American model within a federal structure. Presidential terms are constitutionally limited to two terms of up to eight years!

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, economic growth increased to 3.46 percent in the fourth quarter of 2023, compared to 2.54 percent in the previous period of 2022. The current government of President Tinubu is targeting a growth rate of 3. 8 percent in 2024 and approximately 6 percent per year in subsequent years. The country’s HCI was estimated at 0.36 in 2020, while the CPI in 2023 was 25/100. Nigeria’s dominant political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), characterizes its ideology as progressivism, meaning economic progress, good governance and the rule of law.

Ultimately, both the one-party political model and the multi-party political model are inherently flawed because they are human creations that are necessarily imperfect. Both models can be used to benefit political allies and loyalists; instead of ordinary people and the national interest.

Accordingly, China and Rwanda (supra) are certainly not beacons of anarchy simply because of their one-party political models; just as multiparty political models are not the panacea for all problems.

Because change is a constant dynamic in human affairs, the logic of the human desire for self-determination is as valid as the desire for political change at periodic intervals. The proposition that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, is more common in countries with one dominant party than in countries with multi-party political models, given the pseudo-deification of power and those at the helm of power.

When someone rules a country for ten to thirty years or more, the risks of absolute power and the corrupting influences of that dynamic are greater than in countries with shorter terms! The American multiparty democratic model reinforces this point because the Constitution limits presidential terms to two terms or a maximum of eight years. This is a legal safeguard against presidential power, which implicitly seeks to limit the risks of corrupt, excessive and reckless tendencies.

Moreover, based on the unique criterion of ideologically pure objectives, there is little difference between one-party political governments and democratic multi-party systems, because all ambitious and forward-looking countries pursue sustainable economic growth, employment, national development, peace, security and the future. well-being of their citizens.

The issue then becomes a matter of choice for each country, which in turn speaks to the free exercise of national sovereignty. That is ultimately a decision for the electorate, political prioritization and realpolitik.

As Acemoglu and Robinson noted in “Why Nations Fail” (2013), “today’s rich countries are those that began the process of industrialization and technological change in the nineteenth century, and the poor countries that did not. not.”

Economic renaissance and national development are therefore not a function of the simplistic nomenclature of a monolithic political party or a multi-party democratic ideal. Visionary leadership, adaptability, courage, political will and results are crucial.

Ojumu is the principal partner at Balliol Myers LP, a law firm and strategy consultants in Lagos, Nigeria, and the author of The Dynamic Intersections of Economics, Foreign Relations, Jurisprudence and National Development.