Monica Tabengwa and Matthew Waites
This chapter considers sexualities and genders in Africa by exploring the relationship between precolonial, colonial, and current forms of regulation. The field of research on sexual and gender diversity in Africa is introduced, including African lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI) and queer research, with an emphasis on the need to challenge homogenizing characterizations of “homophobic Africa.” Differences between European colonialisms—such as the British, French, and Portuguese—are noted, with the British as the source of the most extensive legal criminalization of same-sex acts. Regarding recent developments, there is discussion of Uganda as a particularly concerning context, with the Anti-Homosexuality Act briefly passed into law in 2014, though later struck down by that country’s Supreme Court. The passage of Nigeria’s Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act in 2014 has similarly reflected homophobic state action. Yet it is also possible to note decriminalizations of same-sex sexual acts in several states including South Africa, Lesotho, the Seychelles, and Mozambique. Examples from Botswana and Kenya are used to discuss the value of strategic litigation in the courts as a way to achieve change. A final section discusses how African international governmental organizations, particularly the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, have become a focus for claims by organizations such as the Coalition of African Lesbians. The recent withdrawal observer status from the Coalition of African Lesbians occurred in a context of pressure from the African Union and exemplifies current tensions and conflicts in the continent.
Matthew S. Shugart
The electoral system of Israel is an “extreme” example of proportional representation because of its use of a single nationwide district. This feature has been a constant since 1949, while secondary features, such as legal thresholds and the proportional seat-allocation formula, have changed and had an impact on degrees of proportionality. The party system is highly fragmented, as expected in extreme proportional systems. By applying the Seat Product Model to indices of election outcomes, it is possible to determine whether Israel’s system is more or less fragmented and proportional than expected for its institutional design. This chapter reports that the long-term average outputs are about as expected, but they have fluctuated over time. Some of these fluctuations reflect changes in the secondary features of the system, while others are the results of political factors independent of the institutions.
As in other parliamentary democracies, the Israeli government is dependent on the confidence of parliament. Israel is a country with a diverse society, divided by multidimensional political issues and using a proportional representation electoral system. It is therefore not surprising to find a multiparty system with a highly fragmented parliament. This setting produces the central institutional feature of its executive branch: coalition politics. This chapter outlines the process of cabinet formation and the types of coalitions formed, presents an overview of the position of the prime minister, describes the work and structure of cabinet ministers and ministries, explains why governments seldom complete a full term, and assesses claims about both instability and nongovernability in Israel.
After two and a half decades of progress, the struggle for LGBT rights in Latin America started to experience a new form of backlash in the mid-2010s. Backlashes against LGBT progress are not new, but the current backlash in Latin America has a new element: the entry of evangelical churches as powerful veto players. This chapter discusses how religious groups, in particular evangelicals, are taking advantage of institutions of liberal democracy to block progress on LGBT rights. It applies theories of collective action and social movement to demonstrate how evangelicals have become the most powerful actors blocking progress.
Menachem Hofnung and Mohammed S. Wattad
The contemporary perception of Israel’s judiciary as an independent branch does not coincide with Israel’s first government’s perception after establishing the first Supreme Court. To a great extent the executive branch deemed the court its long arm. Until the mid-1950s judges were appointed by the government, and questions of conflicts of interest and political affiliation—in the wide sense of the term—were not compelling. However, since the 1990s the court’s power of judicial review and the legitimacy of its decisions have become issues of heated public debate. Consequently the process of appointing justices to the court has become subject to very strict public and political scrutiny. This chapter asks whether the Israeli judiciary truly constitutes a third independent branch of government. This is relevant considering the continuous attempts to change the existing balance of power, aiming to limit the court’s capacity to apply universal judicial doctrines and legal standards to executive and legislative decisions.
Since May 1999, the Nigerian judiciary has increasingly been called upon to play a more critical role in interpreting the constitution, ensuring the enforcement of the rule of law and the protection of civil liberties. During this period, Nigerian society has also been confronting serious problems concerning ethnic tensions, endemic corruption, and a weak and oil-dependent economy. The judiciary itself has had to contend with serious problems of its own, including corruption amongst some of its judges. This chapter examines how the judiciary, even while dealing with serious challenges of its own, has been able to play an important role in resolving the disputes within Nigeria’s unfolding democratic experience.
Victor Adefemi Isumonah
This chapter discusses the power of indigeneity in citizenship determination in Nigeria. It grants political economy a role but rejects the denial of culture an independent status in citizenship determination. It shows that cultural nationalism retains independence and supremacy over political economy in citizenship determination in Nigeria because the ethnic question is posed as the principal contradiction. Citizenship is cast as ethnic justice based on the equation of individual rights with group rights and in turn with social justice in, ironically, individual-focused distributive system. The power of culture in citizenship determination finds expression in partial and inclusive concepts of indigeneity. The partial concept disenfranchises on a small scale in local and smaller constituencies while the inclusive concept disenfranchises on a bigger scale by denying several groups access to presidential office, effectively watering down Nigeria’s constitutional status of republic.
Chen Friedberg and Reuven Y. Hazan
The Knesset is the legislative body of Israel, which has been a parliamentary, unitary democracy since its foundation. It is a unicameral parliament, elected through a proportional election system that to a great extent reflects Israeli society. Because there is no written constitution, the Knesset alone delineates the three branches of government. On top of its legislative role, the Knesset also oversees the executive branch, handles political conflicts, and is in charge of decision-making. Although it is the main source of all political power in Israel and appears strong on paper, it operates under structural, legal, procedural, and historical constraints. The result is a relatively weak legislative branch in practice, in some roles more so than in others.
LGBT Rights, Sexual Citizenship, and Blacklighting in the Anglophone Caribbean: What Do Queers Want, What Does Colonialism Need?
Cornel Grey and Nikoli A. Attai
This chapter takes up questions of sexual citizenship by examining the desire for and impact of LGBT rights discourses in the Anglophone Caribbean. The chapter works through the difficulties and aspirations of queer politics in the Caribbean to articulate a vision of citizenship and/or freedom that is not overdetermined by white Anglocentric models. Popular measurements of homophobia tell a partial story of queer life and sexual politics in the Caribbean, and this chapter attempts to fill that gap by pointing to the ways that queer people engage, challenge, redefine, and dissociate from laws and policies that mark their sexuality as antagonistic to nationhood. The chapter draws on Rinaldo Walcott’s mobilization of homopoetics to contextualize the political and cultural tensions between LGBT rights organizations in the Global North and organizers in the Caribbean. It offers blacklighting as a way to name the processes by which organizations and governments in the Global North doubly impose LGBT rights frameworks and forward antiblack narratives about Caribbean citizens. In closing, the chapter asks for a return to the question of LGBT rights and its deployment in the Caribbean and proposes a means of engagement that holds blackness alongside sexuality in matters of rights and citizenship.
Reuven Y. Hazan
Both the parties and the party system of Israel have undergone significant changes during the last seventy years. This chapter begins by delineating the transformation of the political parties in Israel, from classic mass parties to a plethora of types that coexist somewhat uneasily, and from parties focused on domestic socioeconomic issues to ones dominated by foreign policy and security concerns. It then shifts to its main focus, assessing the changes in the party system. The chapter argues two points: first, that while the Israeli parties were extremely volatile, the party blocs were surprisingly stable; and second, that while the Israeli party system exhibited two very stable periods during the first fifty years—albeit with a short, transformative interim phase—during the last twenty years it has exhibited accelerated change and instability.
Israel has experienced both failed and successful attempts to reform its democratic institutions in the seventy years since its founding. The most noteworthy failure has been in the promotion of much-needed electoral reform that would moderate the “extreme” features of the hyper-representative, party-centered electoral system. Successes range from small modifications of the electoral system to wide-ranging reforms of the government system at the local and national levels and within political parties. These reforms injected doses of majoritarianism and personalism into the system. But they did not help to solve the problems in the functioning of the Israeli regime; in fact, they often made them worse.
Analyzed in the context of the protracted sharia crisis that dominated Nigeria’s fourth attempt at civil democratic government (the Fourth Republic), this chapter provides historical, political, and constitutional context for the challenges posed by expanded sharia to modern governance in Nigeria. Drawing on a distinctive interdisciplinary perspective that engages entrenched traditional structures in Muslim Northern Nigeria, the chapter underscores the challenges of modern governance in this critical region of the country. Specifically, the chapter discusses how the expanded sharia policies of twelve northern Nigerian Muslim states are not only embedded in Islamic structures, practices, doctrines, and discourse in the region, but also reflect fierce contestations for state power among Nigeria’s ethno-regional political classes. Finally, the chapter analyzes the implications of expanded sharia for Nigeria’s modern constitutional development that seek to advance liberal traditions such as civil rights, state rights, freedom of religion, and secularism.
Israel’s constitutional setting and “unwritten” constitution have evolved over the years, influenced by actions of the Supreme Court of Israel and the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Israel’s constitutional status, with its constitutional structure not formally entrenched in writing, leaves many specific principles of the constitution and their impact more uncertain in many cases than might be the case if there were a more formalized, “written” constitution, something to which Israel committed itself almost seven decades ago. Structures of the constitution, including the Basic Laws, are constitutional but are not the same as having a constitution, and this situation leaves the proper role of the Supreme Court in Israel open to debate. The constitutional system has direct and clear influence over the operation of day-to-day politics and affects a wide range of political and structural factors in the Israeli political world.
Although one may expect that democratic transitions lead to improvements in women’s rights based on citizens’ access to democratic policy processes, meaningful policy changes to improve Nigerian women’s daily lives and representation have not been forthcoming or adequate. Since Nigeria’s transition to democracy, an unfavorable interpretation of its “federal principle” has trumped women’s rights, despite a new constitution that prohibits discrimination based on sex. This chapter argues that women’s movements and feminist allies should target Nigeria’s thirty-seven subnational governments to deepen democracy. This decentralized approach should include the creation of effective “gender policy trifectas,” which fit with Nigeria’s national and international commitments to gender equality. An increased and strategic focus on the subnational level should improve women’s descriptive and substantive representation at the subnational and national levels and strengthen Nigeria’s women’s movements, which are critical to achieving meaningful policy changes for Nigerian women, men, and children.