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The Struggle for Democracy in Britain, Mexico and Nigeria. Questions for Reflection. What do the histories of Britain, Mexico and Nigeria have to tell us about the capacity of established power to resist popular demands for democratization?

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questions for reflection
Questions for Reflection
  • What do the histories of Britain, Mexico and Nigeria have to tell us about the capacity of established power to resist popular demands for democratization?
  • Looking at these histories, do you think that we in Canada take our democratic institutions for granted?
saxon culture the origin of british democratic practices
Saxon Culture:The origin of British democratic practices?
  • The Saxon’s brought with them a tradition of Kings whose power was limited and who required the consent of the community to govern
magna carta 1215 ad
Magna Carta – 1215 AD
  • Arose from a conflict between King John and a group of rebellious feudal barons
  • Established that the King’s power is not arbitrary and must be subject to the laws of the land.
  • "No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned, disseised, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, except by the lawful judgment of his peers and by the law of the land."
limiting suffrage
Limiting Suffrage
  • Concerned that county elections for the English House of Parliament were becoming “crowded by many persons of low estate”, in 1432 King Henry VI limits the right to vote to male owners of property worth at least forty shillings.
  • This provision would remain in place until 1832
reasons for the english civil war
Reasons for the English Civil War
  • In 1603, Elizabeth died. She never married, so there were no heirs to continue the Tudor Dynasty
  • Mary Stuart’s son James I became the King of England— started StuartDynastyin England
reasons for the english civil war1
Reasons for the English Civil War
  • Queen Elizabeth recognized the importance of working with Parliament
  • James I did not; believed he should be absolute monarch because of Divine Right (God chooses royal families to rule); James I did not listen to Parliament
  • Major problems between Parliament & King over issues of Authority, Money, & Religion
problems between the king and parliament
Problems between the King and Parliament
  • Authority—James I believed in divine right and absolutism; Parliament felt king should be limited by Parliament
  • Money—James I has to ask Parliament for money to finance government and life style
problems between the king and parliament1
Problems between the King and Parliament
  • Religion—Puritans were members of the Anglican Church who wanted all Catholic rituals removed; Puritans were active members of Parliament & were angered when James I arranged marriage of son (Charles) to a Catholic princess
reasons for the english civil war2
Reasons for the English Civil War
  • When James I died in 1625, his son Charles I became king
  • Charles was “worse” than James:
    • Charles believed in divine right & absolute monarchy; refused to discuss ideas with Parliament—only called Parliament when he needed money
reasons for the english civil war3
Reasons for the English Civil War
  • Parliament got fed up with Charles I & refused to give him money unless signed Petition of Rights in 1628:
    • King could not jail people without a good reason
    • King could not make taxes without Parliament's approval
    • King could not keep his soldiers in peoples’ homes & could not use army to maintain order during peacetime
civil war
Civil War
  • Charles I was really mad at Parliament & refused to call another Parliament for 11 years until he needed money to end revolts in Ireland & Scotland
  • Conflict between supporters of King (Royalists/Cavaliers) & Parliament grew so bad that a civil war was inevitable
civil war1
Civil War
  • War between Cavaliers(Royalists)vsRoundheads(supporters of Parliament) lasted for 5 years
  • Roundheads found a strong leader in Oliver Cromwell; Cromwell and Roundheads won & behead the king (1st public execution of a king)
after the civil war
After the Civil War
  • After the Civil War, a Commonwealth was created—type of government with no king & ruled by Parliament
  • Oliver Cromwell led the Commonwealth, but did not use democracy— he became a military dictator
new commonwealth
New Commonwealth
  • Life in the Commonwealth was harsh because it was led by Cromwell & the Puritans; Forced strict religious rules on people of England:
  • It was illegal to go to theaters & sporting events; “merrymaking” & “amusement” were illegal
  • Citizens hated living this way & began to want to bring back a king again
  • People grew tired of the severe, religious rule of Oliver Cromwell & the Puritans; many wanted a king again
  • In 1660, Charles I’s son became King of England—Charles II was called the “Merry Monarch” because he brought back theatres, sporting events, dancing & he got along with Parliament!!
  • Charles II learned from the lessons of his father & grandfather:
    • Did not try to rule by Divine Right & did not threaten Parliament’s authority
    • Passed Habeas CorpusLaw—everyone guaranteed a trial after arrest; cannot be held in jail forever
    • Anglicanism was official religion, but treated Puritans & Catholics equally
  • During the Restoration, Parliament strengthened the Church of England—only Anglicans could attend universities, serve in Parliament, be priests in Anglican Church
  • Parliament created Constitutional Monarchy based on Magna Carta & Petition of Right (Guaranteed rights of people & limited king)
  • BUT, there were problems:
    • Charles II needed more money than Parliament was willing to give; so he made a secretagreement with Louis XIV of France to convert to Catholicism in exchange for money
    • Charles II had no children; when he died, his openly-Catholic brother James II will be king (Parliament's worst fear!!)
glorious revolution
Glorious Revolution
  • James ignoring Parliament’s religious laws, James appointed Catholics to government and university positions.
  • Parliament was worried the throne would go to James II son who was to be raised Catholic.
  • Encouraged William of Orange (ruler of the Netherlands who was married to James II daughter Mary) to invade and take over.
glorious revolution cont
Glorious Revolution (Cont)
  • James II fled to France when he realized he had little support from England.
  • This peaceful transfer of power was called the Glorious Revolution.
william and mary
William and Mary
  • William and Mary swore an oath that they would govern the people of England.
  • Parliament passed the Bill of Rights.
  • This passage made it clear that Parliament was in control.
  • Thus was created what is considered the first modern state.
the gradual march to universal suffrage
The Gradual March to Universal Suffrage
  • Reform Act 1832 - extended voting rights to adult males who rented propertied land of a certain value, so allowing 1 in 7 males in the UK voting rights
  • Reform Act 1867 - enfranchised all male householders
  • Representation of the People Act 1884 - amended the Reform Act of 1867 so that it would apply equally to the countryside; 40% of males were still disenfranchised, whilst women could not vote
  • Representation of the People Act 1918 - Property restrictions for voting were lifted for men, who could vote at 21; however women's votes were given with these property restrictions, and were limited to those over 30 years old.
  • Representation of the People Act 1928 - this made women's voting rights equal with men, with voting possible at 21 with no property restrictions
  • Representation of the People Act 1969 - extension of suffrage to those 18 and older
colonial era
Colonial Era
  • Slaughter and enslavement of indigenous people by Spanish
  • Dispossession of indigenous communal lands by Spanish settlers
  • Bartolomé de las Casas
colonial era1
Colonial Era

From an eyewitness account in Carib Islands 1519:

“Some Christians encountered an Indian woman, who was carrying in her arms a child at suck; and since the dog they had with them was hungry, they tore the child from the mother’s arms and flung it still living to the dog, which proceeded to devour him before the mother’s eyes”

colonial era caste system
Colonial Era: Caste System
  • Peninsulares: the permanent residence colonists born in Spain
  • Criollos: people of pure or mostly Spanish ancestry born in the colonies
  • Mestizos: people of mixed Spanish and Amerindian or African heritage
  • Amerindians
  • African Slaves
mexican war of independence
Mexican War of Independence
  • While Spain is distracted with Napoleon's invasion, Criollos unhappy with Spanish rule see an opportunity
  • Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a local priest and member of a group of educated Criollos in Querétaro began to assemble a revolutionary army in 1810
  • Declared independence from the Spanish crown with the “Cry of Dolores”
mexican war of independence1
Mexican War of Independence
  • After some initial victories against the Spanish, Hidalgo’s army was defeated attempting to capture Mexico City.
  • Hidalgo was captured and along with other rebel leaders was executed and had his body publicly mutilated.
mexican war of independence2
Mexican War of Independence
  • Following Hidalgo’s death another RC Priest, José María Morelos took over the revolutionary forces attempting to establish a Mexican republic.
  • Following the restoration of the Spanish King by Napoleon, the Spanish were able to fight back
  • Morelos captured and killed for treason in 1815
mexican war of independence3
Mexican War of Independence
  • 1815-1820 Civil War between rebel republicans and conservative monarchists.
  • Conservative forces lead by Agustín de Iturbide
mexican war of independence4
Mexican War of Independence
  • Iturbide’s forces were on the edge of finally crushing the rebels when a coup d’etat in Spain dethroned the King and established a liberal constitution.
  • Iturbide and the Mexican conservative monarchists were horrified at this turn of events.
  • They proposed an alliance with the rebels based on 3 elements for independent Mexico: an independent constitutional monarchy, a religious monopoly for the Catholic Church, and equality for Spaniards and creoles
mexican war of independence5
Mexican War of Independence
  • Mexican independence was achieved in 1821 with the signing of the Treaty of Cordoba
  • As the Spanish monarchy had been restored Iturbide crowned himself Emperor
  • This controversial move kicked off a 40 year period of political instability that say 50 changes in government
post independence
Post Independence
  • Continued confiscation of Indigenous communal lands by wealthy land owners
  • Election of Benito Juarez in 1861, Mexico’s 1st and only indigenous President did not change this trend.
stability and dictatorship
“Stability” and Dictatorship
  • The 1876 election of PorfirioDíaz began a 30 year period known as “The Porfiriato”
  • This period was marked by fixed elections, cronyism, industrialization and the continued encroachments on indigenous lands
  • Strong links established with foreign investors including British Petroleum and Standard Oil
the porfiriato
The Porfiriato
  • Diaz won his first campaign on the slogan “no re-election”, a principal he would violate again and again by running for re-election
  • In 1908 Diaz made public statements that Mexico was ready for democracy
  • Francisco Madero, a wealthy land owner from the North emerged as a popular political rival.
  • Diaz had him imprisoned (he later escaped to Texas) and then proceeded to fix yet another election.
mexican revolution
Mexican Revolution
  • Tired of Diaz revolutionary peasant movements demanding land reform are formed
  • Emiliano Zapata – organized peasants from southern Mexico
  • Francisco “Pancho” Villa organized peasants from northern Mexico
    • Understood new technology—machine guns
    • Understood role of media better than most
mexican revolution1
Mexican Revolution
  • Francisco Madero returned as a political rival to Diaz
  • With the Zapatista and Northern Villa armies surrounding Mexico, Madero negotiated Diaz’s surrender. Elections were then held which Madero won with the support of Zapata and Villa
mexican revolution2
Mexican Revolution
  • Following his election Madero turned his back on commitments for land reform and betrayed Zapata and Villa by reappointing several Diaz men
  • Zapata and Villa then returned to hostilities against the government
mexican revolution3
Mexican Revolution
  • In the ensuing chaos conservative ‘constitutionalist’ forces regrouped with US arms on the coast at Verracruz
  • They captured the capital, installing Venustiano Carranza as leader.
mexican revolution4
Mexican Revolution
  • To consolidate his power Carranza accepted concessions to the 1917 constitution which would grant rights to organized labour, limit the power of the Church and begin a process of land reform.
  • However the new constitution would concentrate enormous power in the executive branch of government
mexican revolution5
Mexican Revolution
  • Carranza was succeeded by Obregon and Calles who continued the trend towards liberalization while consolidating power and attacking revolutionary movements
birth of the pri
Birth of the PRI
  • In 1929 Calles ran with National Mexican Party (PNM) which would later be renamed Partido RevolucionarioInstitucional (PRI)
  • Through its connections with wealthy land lords and industrialists and its control of organized labour and peasant groups, this party would monopolize all branches of Mexican government, often through corrupt and violent means until 1988
  • The PRI claimed itself to be the only party with a legitimate connection to the Mexican Revolution
universal suffrage
Universal Suffrage
  • While all men were granted the right to vote in 1917, full universal suffrage involving men and women was not achieved until 1953
colonial era3
Colonial Era
  • In 1914 the British united the territory of Nigeria under their rule
  • They then divided Nigeria into a Northern and Southern territory
  • The Southern province was the territory of the Yoruba and Igbo people.
  • This province was ruled directly by the British
  • The British attempted to Westernize and Christianize the people of Southern Nigeria
  • They also permitted a limited form of representative democracy in the South
colonial era4
Colonial Era
  • The Northern territory was ruled indirectly by the British, relying on the traditional political structures to control the territory.
  • They did this by co-opting local community leaders know as Emirs
  • The differences in how the British governed the North and South aggravated pre-existing ethnic tensions and set the stage for the decades if political instability that would follow independence
gradual democratization from above
Gradual Democratization from Above
  • Following WWII a wave of anti-colonial movements swept Africa, Asia and Latin America. These movements were centred on demands for sovereignty and political and economic equality.
  • Wanting to avoid the emergence of a radical movement that would threaten its economic interests, the British began a gradual process of democratization in Nigeria
gradual democratization from above1
Gradual Democratization from Above
  • The Clifford constitution of 1922 created a legislative assembly for the South but not the North
  • The Richards constitution of 1946 extended the legislative assembly to the North
  • The Macpherson constitution of 1950 created a federal system whereby the various regions of Nigeria enjoyed a degree of regional autonomy. Only the Igbo enjoyed universal suffrage for men.
  • Granted by the British
  • 1st Prime Minister Alhaji Sir AbubakarTafawaBalewa (Haussa):

“Words cannot adequately express my joy and pride at being the Nigerian citizen privileged to accept from Her Royal Highness these Constitutional Instruments which are the symbols of Nigeria’s Independence… Each step of our constitutional advance has been purposefully and peacefully planned with full and open consultation, not only between representatives of all the various interests in Nigeria but in harmonious cooperation with the administering power which has today relinquished its authority.”

the first republic
The First Republic
  • 1963 Nigeria proclaimed itself the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and former Governor General Nnamdi Azikiwe (Igbo) became the country's first President.
  • Prior to the elections of 1965 the leader of the main opposition party (Yaruba) was imprisoned
  • This discredited the elections which were won by a coalition between the party representing Muslims in North and Southwest.
military rule and civil war
Military Rule and Civil War
  • Following the corrupt election of 1965 a group of Igbo generals overthrew the government.
  • The Igbo territory then declared independence leading to the outbreak of a civil war that became know as the “Biafra war”
decades of disfunction
Decades of Disfunction




Military Authoritarianism



CIVIL WAR 1967-1970







1985 – 1998




the second republic 1979 1983
The Second Republic 1979-1983
  • Oil was discovered in Nigeria in 1950
  • During the second republic there was a sharp spike in global oil prises.
  • Struggles to control the newfound oil wealth lead to growing corruption and the overthrow of the second republic and the return to military rule
coup d etat 1983
Coup D’Etat 1983
  • 1983 General MuhammaduBuhari overthrows the government
  • Claims this is to clean up corruption and improve the economy
  • Declared “War Against Indiscipline”, which resulted in the arrest, detention, and jailing of a number of politicians and later journalists.
coup d etat 19831
Coup D’Etat 1983
  • “The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1979) has been suspended … The change became necessary in order to put an end to the serious economic predicament and the crisis of confidence now afflicting our nation…It is true that there is a worldwide economic recession. However, in the case of Nigeria, its impact was aggravated by mismanagement… The last general election was anything but free and fair. The only political parties that could complain of election rigging are those parties that lacked the resources to rig … The economy will be given a new impetus and better sense of direction….Corrupt officials and their agents will be brought to book… This generation of Nigerians, and indeed future generations, have no country other than Nigeria. We shall remain here and salvage it together.”
coup d etat 1985
Coup D’Etat 1985
  • In 1985 Buhari was overthrown by General Ibrahim Babanigida who wanted to restore civil liberties and bring in a democratic constitution
  • Behind the scenes he acted to undermine democracy and keep his control
coup d etat 19851
Coup D’Etat 1985
  • 1992 Babanigda cancelled presidential elections
  • 1993 Free and fare presidential elections held but Babanigda annulled the results before they were made public
coup d etat 1993
Coup D’Etat 1993
  • Through a series of bloodless coups and military threats, General Sani Abacha seized control of Nigeria from ’93-’98
  • Abacha's regime demolished any semblence of democratic institutions put in place by his predecessors and was accused of multiple human rights violations
  • Execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa (a journalist and an activist)
  • Imprisonment of former President and Nigerian Army General Olusegun Obasanjo (for “treason”; would later serve as President again from '99-'07)
the third republic
The Third Republic
  • Abacha died of a heart attack in June 1998 leaving General Abdulsalami Abubakar to take office
  • New constitution for the Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Multi-party elections that mandated some sort of party affiliation for elligibility of office (a way of keeping military leaders who have no political affiliations from becoming legitimate)
  • 1999 Olusegun Obasanjo elected President
the third republic1
The Third Republic
  • Obasanjo (Yoruba) served two term limit, 1999-2007
  • Obasanjo handed over power to Yar’ Adua 2007 after an election widely recognized as corrupt
a future of goodluck
A Future of Goodluck?
  • Yar’ Adua died in 2010 causing his Vice president Goodluck Jonathan to assume the Presidency
  • In 2011 Goodluck Jonathan was elected in an election that was recognized by international observers as free and fair.