Article By Enrique Guerrero Salom
My colleagues in the European Parliament, Marlene Mizzi, Pedro Silva Pereira, and I, visited Cape Verde in April. Relations with Africa have been a political priority for the Socialists and Democrats during this term. We have worked tirelessly to put Africa at the centre of the European Parliament’s agenda and change our paradigm of cooperation: not work for Africa, but with Africa. I am glad we have strengthened our links with Cape Verdean progressives in that perspective.
I would like to pay tribute to the decisive role of our sister party, the African Party of Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), which has paved the way for a pacific democratic transition, a lasting multi-party democracy and a peaceful change in political leadership. Cape Verde is a particular case in Africa, an example that is a hope for all those fighting for democracy around the world.
Although in opposition for some years, PAICV remains a key player on the Cape Verdean political scene, being the main opposition party, and is still very much active in shaping the democratic structure of the country – a good example of this being its large involvement in the current regionalisation and decentralization reforms debate.
European and African progressives – we are all facing common democratic challenges, be it the growing distrust towards political parties or the declining turnout rates amongst certain categories of the population. Although conscious that there is no miracle recipe, we have to work together to jointly overcome those challenges, and build peaceful participatory and representative democracies, with active citizenship at their core.
We have asked ourselves a lot on how to “export” the Cape Verdean archipelago prototype, to other West African countries.
The Cape Verdean democratic “success story” is very much rooted in its history and society, and particularly because of its insularity, its mixed culture, its important and influential diaspora. Although a great source of inspiration, the Cape Verdean democratic system should yet not be considered as a one-size-fits-all democratic model, which could be exported en bloc to neighbouring countries. Nonetheless, some of its peculiarities must apply to all democracies in the West African context, as, for example, the crucial role that Cape Verdean women are playing in society and the fact that its political parties, and PAICV in the first place, are ideology-based, and not ethnic-based.
Cape Verde is a very important partner for the European Union. Cape Verde – EU relations are very close, framed by a very ambitious Special Partnership and by a Partnership for Mobility for which Cape Verde was chosen as a pilot state. Thanks to its geographical situation, close to the Madeiras, the Azores and the Canarias, its history and its governance model, Cape Verde is a wonderful link between the European and African continents, which need to work hand-in-hand to face global challenges.