Taking Africa’s democratic temperature as a dozen countries prepare for polls


John J Stremlau, University of the Witwatersrand

More than a dozen national elections will be held across Africa next
year. All 55 members of the African Union (AU) are obligated to hold
regular and ostensibly democratic elections. They must also invite teams
of AU election observers to publicly monitor, assess and report the results.

Is all this electoral activity helping to entrench democracy as the
foundation for national and regional security, development and
integration? Or have elections become the means for demagogues to grab
power – or, more typically, for powerful elites and authoritarian rulers
to entrench themselves?

Democratic theory prescribes credible elections as a necessary, but
insufficient means, to consolidate real democracy. Real democracy
typically abets peace…

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