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Youth to the Rescue: What Kind of Democracy Do Young People in Africa, Asia and Europe Want?



Three decades ago, democracy seemed like the unassailable winner. The fall of the Berlin Wall had prompted the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of autocracy in many Eastern and Central European societies. The rise of India as a superpower, and growing economic freedoms in China, seemed to pave the way for a new era of global liberal democracy. Multiparty systems and movements to protect human rights were spreading in Africa.

But progress ground to a halt and a malaise set it. Now, democracy is in crisis. Some of Africa’s fresh-faced democrats of the 1980s are still in power today. Contrary to liberal internationalist assumptions that a growing middle class would push for greater political freedoms, China’s communist party has deepened its grip on every aspect of citizens’ lives. India’s ruling party has been described as an “electoral autocracy” by the Swedish-based V-Dem Institute. Populism has swept through Europe and several former communist states have slipped away from democracy.

Debating Africa and Debating Europe believe the answer to our democratic malaise should come from young people. What kind of democracy do young people in Africa, Asia and Europe want? What are their concerns and hopes for the future of their societies, and how can theirs and other marginalised voices be heard?

In order to answer these questions, in partnership with the Council of Europe and ahead of their World Forum for Democracy (WFD) in November 2022, Debating Europe, together with its sister platform Debating Africa, asked 150 young people aged 18-35 from Africa, Asia, and Europe to share their thoughts on the future of democracy in a series of online focus groups.

Read the report

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

Report prepared by Debating Europe and Debating Africa with the support of the World Forum for Democracy.