Multiparty democracy, Niger style
According to the Centre for Democracy and Development, Niger is an example of a successful multiparty democracy where the opposition acted as a safeguard against the ruling party turning dictatorial.
"The presidential elections in the Republic of Niger presents a ... scenario in which the opposition demonstrated a cohesiveness that ensured a victory for their leaders, Mahamadou Issoufou of the PNDS party against Seini Oumarou of MNSD who was said to have strong ties to Mohmoud Tandia the ousted former president.
"As part of the ECOWAS observation team for the 1st and 2nd rounds of the 2011 elections, I could clearly see that tribal differences were set aside, party ideologies and manifestos were collapsed and united for the sole purpose of defeating Seini Oumarou of the MNSD. This could be clearly seen in the united front put up by the two main opposition candidates in Mahamadou Issoufou (PNDS), an ethnic Hausa and Hama Amadou (MODEN/FA) from the Djema ethnic group and the rest of the opposition parties."
Implications from Centre for Democracy and Development:
"The Niger example, I believe should serve as an example to political parties within the rest of the region. There must be focus in surpassing ethnic and regional differences and it is possible to establish a national platform that can serve the general good of the people. This is a lesson to countries such as Nigeria where the opposition has always failed to unite in contests against incumbent parties."
Implications from Institute for the Future:
The concept of having the opposition unite to combat the incumbent party is somehow a uniquely West African interpretation of Western democracy. Multiparty democracy was designed to have a multitude of opinions and policy objectives, but in countries that routinely suffer from 'strong man' politics and dictatorial democratically elected presidents, then the Niger technique on point.
Sources:Centre for Development and Democracy, April 2011, Pgs. 8-9