Democracy: Why is it hard in Africa and the Middle East compared to Western Europe?

By Ian Ziller
In some nations, democracy has become a long-standing tradition. In countries like the U.S., democracy is such a tradition that we think of it as a core of who we are. Other countries, like the ones in Europe, also have a long history of democracies. However, not all countries that are democracies are like the U.S. and European ones, and countries in both Africa and the Middle East have found democracy to be challenging.

There are likely several reasons why the U.S. has had a more stable democracy and a long democratic tradition. One reason that some countries seem less likely to create and maintain stable democracies is that these countries’ only exposure to democracy has been through the Western eyes. In contrast, the U.S. and European nations got some of their ideas from the philosophers of the enlightenment. In these countries, they were surrounded by a lot of European philosophy and ideas of government. The classical democracies of Rome and Greece came from Western Europe as well so it is a part of western culture, whereas African and Middle Eastern countries do not have democracy in their culture.

Westerners have grown up to think that democracy is a right, while some people do not have these same ideas. When it comes down to it, people tend to accept the status quo, and if you are not a democracy then the norm is not to be a democratic nation and so there is less resistance to tyranny. However, if a tyrant took over in the West there would likely be more resistance than in the Middle East and Africa. People can be a little skeptical of change, and for some, this makes them a little concerned about democracy.


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