Timbuktu Institute Assesses Religious Influence On Politics, Elections

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Timbuktu Institute Assesses Impact Of Religious Influence On Politics
Timbuktu Institute Assesses Impact Of Religious Influence On Politics

Senegal is a country where religion is an important foundation of the social contract. It is a country where, historically, the “national” interest has never departed from the religious imagination so the interactions between the two spheres of politics and religion have always been at the heart of academic debate and research.

Admittedly, scientific work has constantly revisited the scope of this interaction in light of the socio-political challenge or even of the stability it represents.

Since the first political alternation, many debates have structured this reflection between those on the importance of religious guides in the country’s socio-political balances and others on the current validity of the theses around the electoral weight of religion.

Long dependent on the concept of “Ndigul,” which some have eventually restricted in the sense of electoral instructions, this relationship between the influence of religious and Senegalese electoral games deserved to be revisited by studies combining surveys of the main actors and review of the theses that have so far structured this debate in Senegal.

Thus, understanding perceptions of religious actors in the country’s electoral game is therefore crucial, to say the least. This study, conducted by the Timbuktu Institute, in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, is based on this study.

Historically, these religious actors have played a stabilizing role in political crises. However, questions remain as to their influence on contemporary electoral processes, particularly in the face of recent socio-political changes and, in particular, recent developments marked by the increasing role of social networks in the construction of so-called “public” opinions.

The report adopted various methodologies to analyze these new dynamics, combining quantitative and qualitative approaches to producing new knowledge, considering the recent developments. In addition to interviews, a questionnaire was administered to the people, covering topics such as religious information channels, the place of religion in Senegalese political play, mediation, increasing digital influence, and relations between religious guides and young people.

At the same time, 45 interviews were conducted with various actors, including religious, political, and civil society leaders, using the “snowball” method to access inclusively the targets.

The study also aims to understand the importance of religious actors in recent political crisis prevention and resolution, Senegalese perceptions of this role, the sustainability and efficiency of their mediation in the face of a new generation, and the resilience of the “Senegalese social contract” in the face of potential fractures and conflicts.

The influence of religious brotherhoods, particularly in Senegalese Islam, and their role in the country’s politics, is also widely highlighted. The study highlights how religious leaders influence faithful citizens and their possible weight in political orientations and electoral choices.

The interaction between religions and politics in Senegal highlights the historical importance of this relationship in the country’s political and social trajectories. The study examines, in this way, how religious actors have traditionally played a role as mediators and regulators in Senegalese society, contributing to political stability and social cohesion.

It was also widely discussed the electoral “weight” of religion re-examined in the light of the relationship between young people and new ways of religious socialization in a context of democratization and diversification of offers for access to knowledge and information in the age of the Internet and social networks.

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