Development Economics

Democracy in Africa: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

According to the Economist, the growing sophistication of election rigging dictators is a good sign:

Citizens plainly like to vote. Even the most authoritarian leaders now feel obliged to hold elections. Presidents Bashir and Mugabe, as well as Meles Zenawi, the prime minister of Ethiopia—none of them natural democrats—have all had to hold elections in recent years. Only a decade ago countries such as Sierra Leone and Liberia were bywords for anarchy and bloodshed. Now their people vote enthusiastically. It will be hard even for dictators to take that right away altogether, for the experience of elections, even flawed ones, seems to help embed democracy. Ghana, for instance, which reverted to civilian rule only in 1992, has twice changed governments after tight elections. This month the incumbent in Somaliland, a nation-in-waiting, conceded electoral defeat. In Nigeria the ruling party, despite efforts to snuff out democracy, is having to concede improvements that should make for a better vote next year. (more…)