Deliberative Democracy and the Public Will Formation: Towards an Alternative Democratic Model for Africa
Democracy as a political system has over the years enjoyed a wide and progressive
acceptance as an effective form of political structure which provides enabling
environment for nourishing of the basics of human flourishing. It has found
manifestation in different forms and designs in various cultures, without
undermining the basic operational principles that are generally regarded as
distinctive elements of a democratic order. The implication, therefore, is that
almost all societies of the world have some forms of democratic credentials. The
consensus principle of decision making through deliberative and participatory
engagements remain a remarkable feature of democratic practice in traditional
African society. This principle of reaching decision and forming the public will was
the traditional method of considering all shades of opinions in the process of
building consensus that will guarantee a rancour-free and public-spirited decision
in the non-party structure of the traditional African society. With the adoption of
western liberal democratic practice, the traditional African method of decision
making through consensus principle is now threatened, and with the sustained
influence of neoliberal ideologies and majoritarianism, the principle of liberal
democratic practice in Africa is facing a huge challenge of consolidation. This
paper, therefore, engages expository, historical and critical-evaluative methods to
systematically lay bare the issues, historically locate the evolution and
transformation of traditional African society and critically interrogate the concept
of deliberative democracy and public formation in view of advancing an alternative
model for democratic practice in contemporary Africa.
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