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D Donno, B Russett. American Journal of Political Science 57 3 , , Comparative Political Studies 45 5 , , International Studies Quarterly 59 2 , , The Review of International Organizations 13 3 , , Comparative Political Studies 52 5 , , The Politics of Distribution in Democracies. Elections and Political Identities Conf. International Studies Quarterly 63 3 , , Articles 1—20 Show more.
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Cambodia’s Post-Election Crisis in Context
Elections and democratization in authoritarian regimes D Donno American Journal of Political Science 57 3 , , This vision, which is more utilitarian than idealistic, makes democracy more of a means than an end in itself. In the real world, idealistic arguments are rarely enough to secure popular support for a political regime that is particularly demanding of both its elite and the common citizen. In countries and societies where a significant proportion of the population lives in a permanent state of extreme physical and material vulnerability, in which human needs that are elsewhere considered elementary are not satisfied, it is not enough to defend democracy by brandishing its theoretical content of freedom Yabi, Competitive elections promote uncertainty among political aspirants and thus encourage their responsiveness to citizens.
Elections will only produce accountability when they are regularly held and when they are free and fair. In many new democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa and post-communist Eurasia, electoral competition has not ensured accountability. Sometimes this is because electoral procedures are irregular, rather than transparent and in full conformity with constitutional guidelines.
Even more decisive than the rise of democracy has been the end of the one-party state in Africa. Since the s, elections have become increasingly regular and frequent, and almost all African elections have been contested. As has been the case in Nigeria—as well as in Ethiopia, Gambia, Uganda, and most brutally, Zimbabwe, among others—many of these elections have been arbitrarily limited, manipulated, or blatantly rigged Diamond, Countries that describe themselves as democratic are members of a very broad church.
Just as other regions of the world display varied systems of governance, there are discrepancies among African countries too The Guardian, As stated in theInternational IDEA Policy Dialogue , after most of the recent elections, new types of non-democratic government have come to the fore: competitive authoritarian regimes—in which autocrats submit to meaningful multiparty elections but engage in serious democratic abuse. These regimes have formal democratic institutions. But their leaders circumvent and ignore them so often that they cannot be described as democratic.
In his research on the state of democracy in Africa, Cheeseman findings suggest that African politics is likely to take a number of directions, rather than cohering on a common experience. These countries are likely to continue to make democratic gains and consolidate over time…Second, there is a group of countries in which leaders with authoritarian inclinations are still attempting to hold out against increasingly confident and popular opposition 38 P a g e May www.
My research, suggests that these countries are likely to oscillate between opposition gains and authoritarian repression until the government of the day is willing to accept defeat…Finally, there are the states in which authoritarian governments have established strong control over their political systems and so have had little to fear from holding elections: Cameroon, Chad, Rwanda, and so on.
The great authority wielded by presidents in these countries makes it tempting to think of this group as a stable authoritarian category ibid. According to Deegan , between and almost elections had taken place in Africa. Moreover, in the s alone, 42 out of 48 African countries made democratic reforms and held elections Eid , 2.
In , a number of elections were conducted on the continent with mixed outcomes. Some African countries demonstrated an increasing level of democratic maturity by organizing relatively transparent and peaceful elections. For instance, elections in Zambia and Tunisia in September and October , respectively, were hailed as credible. Yet, a clear picture or understanding of leadership and governance crises in Africa attests to a growing number of civilian dictators bent on perpetuating themselves in power with absolute disregard for democratic norms.
Put differently,a club of authoritarian leaders have maintained an iron grip on power in parts of Africa, either by amending laws to extend their terms of office, hosting rubber-stamp elections or repressing opposition and civil society The Guardian, despite advances in African democracy since the end of the Cold War. Even so, the index only awarded full democracy status to Mauritius, a quiet achiever with strong rule of law.
Some countries defy the narrative of a democratic deficit in Africa, however. In its Freedom in the World report, Freedom House named Nigeria, Liberia and Ivory Coast among the countries with the biggest improvements in political rights and civil liberties. In Nigeria, was the first year an opposition party gained power through elections. Botswana, Ghana, Cape Verde and Benin have also been lauded as democratic examples. Although elections do not automatically lead to representative governments, competitive, multi-party elections constitute a sine qua non for democracy, and regular ballots indicate progress towards ensuring citizens are able to choose their leaders The Guardian, No region has more countries that straddle the divide between democracy and pseudo- democracy than Africa.
Independent and effective electoral administration has become institutionalized in some African countries, such as South Africa and Ghana, and a few other democracies, such as Mali, are fairly liberal, but in most of Africa, civil liberties are constrained, opposition rights aretenuous, and elections are riddled with malpractices, to the point where it is fair to question whether some of these regimes are democratic in any sense Diamond, In Nigeria and other emerging democracies, politicians may not have the skill to choose their voters by redistricting of constituencies, but they learn other methods such as stuffing ballot boxes or manipulating election outcomes to the extent that elections are not truly the verdict of voters.
This is the contemporary challenge of democracy Ekwo, Indeed, recent elections conducted on the continent, as captured below, attest to this submission.
From Elections to Democracy in Hard Times - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics
Recent Election Outcomes: Still with Mixed Feelings Events in some African countries may have justified the reasons why many analysts posit that authoritarian regimes might benefit from holding elections, specifically how they might stabilize authoritarian rule. For instance, Schedler points out that the ability to hold elections and reap the legitimacy benefits they convey without much risk of relinquishing office is a net gain for authoritarian leaders. In recent years, African politics have been marked by increasing numbers of leaders seeking to evade presidential term limits in order to extend their stays in office.
These moves not only compromise national constitutions, but they also often trigger instability and conflict Nantulya, In countries where there are no term limits, the challenge lay in the credibility of electoral processes.
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This is especially true in states where incumbent and influential leaders wield the power to determine the outcome of electoral results ISS, Others have systematically weakened opposition parties and dissenting voices through political repression, limiting the financial capacity of opposition parties and using state resources to dispense patronage.
A number of African countries have no term limits for presidents. In others, presidents have only very recently agreed to such limits, often window-dressing while they plot to prolong their stay at the helm. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe agreed in that presidents should have two five-year terms, which would technically allow him to stay in 39 P a g e May www. A chronicle of some of the events in these countries particularly in the last few years of their latest elections, will surface here: In the Republic of Congo, for instance, President Denis SassouNguesso, who has ruled for 32 years, ensured his re- election in March through constitutional changes.
The government responded with tear gas and lethal force. Several people were killed, and opposition leaders were arrested. The three presidential elections held since have all been tagged frauds, and Chadians have risen up against Deby in one form or another since.
The president of Chad has equally received criticism over his corruptly run administration, fraught with human rights abuses and oppression Okoroafor, Term limits were scrapped in , which means that Obiang — who is now 74 years old — is technically serving his first term in office.
This term will last for seven years with grounds for possible re-election for a second term. According to Reuters April 28, ,Obiang, Africa's longest-serving leader, has ruled the former Spanish colony since when he staged a bloody military coup and ousted his uncle, who was later executed. Obiang's closest challenger in the polls was AvelinoMocacheBenga, who won just 1. In Zanzibar, the opposition boycotted the election in March over allegations of electoral fraud. The election was a re- run of the presidential polls in October , which had been annulled due to allegations of fraud.
However, the main opposition party, the Civic United Front, claimed that the cancellation of the October vote was aimed at preventing its leader — Seif Sharif Hamad — from claiming victory. The CCM has ruled Tanzania for over five decades.
As observed by The Irish Times serious violence marred three out of the last four elections in Zanzibar. In , the police and military shot hundreds protesting against another apparently rigged election, killing at least 35 and initiating a campaign of violence which sent thousands into exile. Similar trouble followed the contested poll, which led to the CUF boycotting parliament. Djibouti changed its constitution in to jettison term limits. In Niger, the army ousted President MamadouTandjain after mass protests when he failed to change the constitution to allow himself a third term bid.
Related Defending Democratic Norms: International Actors and the Politics of Electoral Misconduct
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