The Surprising Significance of African Elections

Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 139-151, January 2006

13 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007 Last revised: 9 Jan 2014

See all articles by Staffan I. Lindberg

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: Sept 01, 2005

Abstract

In a time when elections are sometimes hailed as the hallmark and instruments of democracy they have increasingly become the object of severe skepticism in the scholarly community. Similar to announcing "The King is Dead" Carothers argued in a contribution to this journal the transition paradigm had passed away with evidence showing elections to be insignificant in furthering democracy. Meanwhile, governments and donors around the world provide core funding to electoral processes as often the main support to democracy. This begs the question if the holding of elections facilitate, or even generate democratic qualities in society as well, or, are elections at best reflections of democracy? "Long live the King" is the message of this article building on an analysis of 232 elections in Africa during the third wave of democratization probing the ability of elections to institute, broaden and deepen democracy beyond the political arena and the political system as such. The argument is that an uninterrupted series of elections in anyone country tends to cause society outside of the political system being imbued with democratic qualities. It presents evidence that the mere repetition of multiparty elections - regardless whether they are free and fair or not - leads to increases in human freedom and the spread of democracy.

Keywords: elections, Africa, democratization, participation, competition

Suggested Citation

Lindberg, Staffan I., The Surprising Significance of African Elections (Sept 01, 2005). Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 139-151, January 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1013670

Staffan I. Lindberg (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
204
Abstract Views
1,521
rank
154,650
PlumX Metrics