DAKAR – Many commentators doubted whether democracy in Senegal, a country whose population is 95% Muslim, would survive its most recent presidential election, in which the incumbent, Abdoulaye Wade, sought a controversial (and only semi-legal) third term. But Senegal’s long-established democracy not only survived; it emerged strengthened. Why?
First of all, Senegalese citizens, unlike Wade, were determined to stick to peaceful tactics. Though some candidates and civil-society groups opted for a show of force with the regime, the majority of the population decided to defeat Wade at the ballot box – a patience and respect for electoral tradition that must be understood historically.