Has Liberia Turned a Corner?

Issue Date July 2018
Volume 29
Issue 3
Page Numbers 156-170
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While Liberia’s postconflict stability is impressive, its institutions are weak, and its democratic consolidation is incomplete and reversible. Analyzing Liberia’s 2005, 2011, and 2017 elections reveals three trends. First, there has been an ongoing establishment of the norm that power should be contested institutionally, rather than by nonconstitutional means. Second, each election has seen allegations of electoral fraud by losing candidates, exposing institutional weaknesses and further eroding state-citizen trust. Third, increased electoral competition suggests that Liberia’s democracy is opening up, but also reveals the pernicious and widely shared notion that the path to wealth is through the public sector. As international aid to Liberia decreases, entrenching democratic norms remains a key challenge.

About the Authors

Benjamin J. Spatz

Benjamin J. Spatz is a doctoral candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a Jennings Randolph Peace Scholar at the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has worked on Liberia since 2005, including serving on the UN Panel of Experts on Liberia during 2012–15.

View all work by Benjamin J. Spatz

Kai M. Thaler

Kai M. Thaler is assistant professor of global studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

View all work by Kai M. Thaler