Elections in the Hardest Places: The Case of Somalia

Issue Date October 2017
Volume 28
Issue 4
Page Numbers 132-146
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Somalia may be the most nonpermissive postconflict setting in the world in which to conduct elections. In 2016–17, to cope with an array of security, political, and logistical impediments to direct elections, a complex, indirect election system was improvised, involving 275 separate electoral colleges and over 14,000 delegates. The process was ad hoc and nonconstitutional, and plagued by vote buying, intimidation, and political interference. But the results were embraced by most Somalis, and the process prevented a political collapse and armed conflict. Somalia’s experiment holds lessons and as well cautionary notes for other efforts to promote elections in nonpermissive postconflict settings.

About the Author

Ken Menkhaus is C. Louise Nelson Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. He is the author of more than fifty articles, chapters, and monographs on Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

View all work by Ken Menkhaus