Opposition and Civil Society in Senegal

Opposition and Civil Society in Senegal

The walls of Dakar are littered with political slogans

The walls of Dakar are littered with political slogans

Slogans Bennoo, opposition

Slogans Bennoo, opposition

In the last few years of the Wade era, the opposition and civil society complained about the undemocratic conditions in the country, but it must be said that, in contrast to other countries in the region, fortunately freedom of expression was and is possible and the opposition can act largely unhindered.

The main opposition parties have been organized in the Siggil Sénégal (Cheers up Senegal) front in recent years.

How the political landscape will be constituted after the change in power in 2012 remains to be seen. The APR (Alliance pour la République), which was founded by Macky Sall after he left the PDS, currently provides the president and the electoral alliance for Macky Sall, which consists of almost all opposition parties of the Wade era, is broad in government represented. But after more than two years of joint exercise of power, the alliance is crumbling and, according to most observers, will break up before the next presidential election.

Since the change of power, the PDS and the Convergence Démocratique Bokk Guiss Guiss that emerged from the PDS have been the most important opposition parties. The highly stylized first return of the former President Wade from exile in France and his, as always polarizing, public appearances brought his party great media coverage. Due to the old age of the party chairman, the question of his successor naturally arises today. Wade himself favors his son to this day, but he is met with a lot of internal party opposition.

As one of 16 countries located in Western Africa according to thefreegeography, Senegal has had a lively civil society landscape for a long time. A large number of civil society organizations, associations and NGOs are active in a wide variety of areas in Senegal. The NGOs are united in the national umbrella organization CONGAD.

In recent years, however, spontaneous and unorganized demonstrations by frustrated young people that cannot be attributed to any political or civil society group have been perceived by the public as civil society movements.

In June 2011, protests and riots of unprecedented proportions broke out in Dakar and other cities in the country: initially as a reaction to an attempted change in the law that was supposed to allow the president to be elected with a majority of only 25%, whereupon the proposed law was due to the violent protests had to be withdrawn during the parliamentary session. These protests eventually gave rise to the M23 opposition movement, which led the demonstrations against Wade’s candidacy. A few days later, protesting youths ransacked branches of the state electricity company and government and administrative buildings in response to the ongoing power cuts.

There were sometimes just unorganized and spontaneous expressions of discontent by frustrated sections of the population, as these protests resulted in such important movements as the M23 or the youth movement “Y’en a marre”.

Another important civil society movement that is rarely mentioned today was the so-called Assises Nationales, which were initiated by the opposition and civil society organizations in 2008 due to the difficult domestic political situation. The PDS government refused to participate despite being invited.

In May 2009 the Convention published its final report and a charter which should serve as a recommendation for future more democratic governance and sustainable development. In the run-up to the runoff election, Macky Sall undertook to enter into dialogue with the representatives of the Assises Nationales. One of the most important recommendations was to move away from the presidential system towards a parliamentary one. In the past Sall advocated the presidential system.

Street vendors on the Autobahn

Street vendors on the Autobahn

Everything can be found on the Autobahn

Everything can be found on the Autobahn

Furniture store on the street

Furniture store on the street

Dental wood seller

Dental wood seller

Peanut seller

Peanut seller

Sandaga, the big market in the center of Dakar

Sandaga, the big market in the center of Dakar

Trade union organizations are “Nationale des Syndicats Autonomous du Sénégal Union” (UNSAS) and “Confederation des Syndicats autonomous” (CSA). The umbrella labor organization “Confédération Nationale des Travailleurs Sénégalais” (CNTS) with approx. 60 individual unions and federations of autonomous trade unions

However, only a fraction of the Senegalese population works in the formal sector, the unions are of limited importance.

A large part of the Senegalese population works in the informal sector, in the urban area many of them get by with sales activities on the street from day to day.