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Elections and civil strife: some implications for international election observation

By B. de Gaay Fortman


In this chapter elections and civil strife will be analyzed against the background of four factors which tend to affect the role of elections in processes of democratization: a malfunctioning party system, the lack of adequate checks and balances, authoritarian leadership, and the problem of legitimate government under adverse economic conditions. Although they arrive on the scene only after the stage has been set, monitors should be aware of the state of affairs in regard to each of these institutional elements. Most problematic, in my view, is the state of the economy. In the preparation of monitors it is particularly that fourth factor which tends to be overlooked. This might seem to be understandable, since they can do nothing to remedy adverse economic conditions. However, a proper understanding of the political economy of elections may well contribute to more effective monitoring. In the following section democratization will be discussed in a contemporary African setting. It is in this context that political violence has to be understood. Next, each of the four co-ordinates within which elections tend to take place -a malfunctioning party system, lack of democratic checks and balances, a culture of authoritarianism and adverse economic conditions- will be discussed. Finally, some conclusions will be drawn in regard to elections and democratization in general and the role of international observation in particular

Topics: Sociale Wetenschappen, democracy, elections
Year: 1999
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