Elections in Africa: Voting More Often

If the number of elections alone provided an indication of the state of democracy, then this would be a bumper year. Besides polling in high-profile democracies like America and India there are elections in more than twenty African nations, with South Africa voting this month.

The World Today
Published 1 April 2004 Updated 16 October 2020 4 minute READ

Heather Deegan

For more than a decade the political map of Africa has been changing. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a first wave of democratisation between 1989 and 1994. Around a hundred elections were held, in some countries for the first time. Two-thirds of Africa’s nations had been or were still under some form of autocratic or dictatorial regime. South Africa’s democratic change in 1994 also raised the prospect of political renewal and progress.

The dynamics of those early elections were significant because if democracy was to develop incrementally, politicians needed to engage more fully with the wider population. In political terms, polling helps promote participation and governmental legitimacy, while also contributing to the wider debate about democracy and its application.

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