Subject: Elections

January 2019, Volume 30, Issue 1

How the Populists Won in Italy

In 2018, Italian voters produced Europe’s first populist majority. Lega and the Five Star Movement, each populist in its own way, collectively won just over half the vote. Now they are locked in a struggle with the EU.

January 2019, Volume 30, Issue 1

Pakistan: Voting Under Military Tutelage

With its recent electoral turnover of power, Pakistan seemingly passed a milestone of democratic consolidation. But beneath the surface, power remains where it long has been—with the military.

January 2019, Volume 30, Issue 1

Zimbabwe: An Opportunity Lost

Zimbabwe’s first elections since the November 2017 coup that ousted nonagenarian dictator Robert Mugabe were marred by the abuse of state resources, electoral irregularities, and a tragic bout of postelection violence that saw soldiers use deadly force against civilians.

October 2018, Volume 29, Issue 4

The Downfall of Malaysia’s Ruling Party

In Malaysia’s May 2018 general election, a grand bargain between ex–prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and reform leader Anwar Ibrahim produced a political earthquake that ended 61 years of rule by the United Malays National Organization (UMNO).

July 2018, Volume 29, Issue 3

Has Liberia Turned a Corner?

The retirement of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and George Weah’s election as her successor open a new chapter for a country that has made great strides since its brutal civil war, but where progress remains tenuous.

April 2018, Volume 29, Issue 2

Kenya’s Electoral Misfire

Sophisticated technology could not keep Kenya’s August 2017 presidential election from leading to renewed ethnic tensions and a painful standoff from which the country appears only now to be emerging. What went wrong?

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

Iran’s 2017 Election: Waning Democratic Hopes

Wrongly viewed by many media sources as a victory for “reform” and “openness,” the recent presidential election in Iran actually reflected the demoralization and disengagement of the country’s prodemocratic opposition.

October 2017, Volume 28, Issue 4

South Korea After Impeachment

After a presidential corruption scandal sparked peaceful mass protests leading to the impeachment and removal of the incumbent, South Koreans went to the polls to choose her successor. Was this drama a window on the troubles of South Korean democracy, or a testament to its strength and resilience?

July 2017, Volume 28, Issue 3

Turkmenistan: Grasping for Legitimacy

Turkmenistan’s authoritarian president Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov attempted to use sham democratic elections in February 2017 to bolster his legitimacy both at home and abroad. 

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

The 2016 U.S. Election: The Nomination Game

Since the 1970s, the U.S. presidential-nomination system has become more democratic, making primary elections crucial, reducing the influence of political parties, and making it easier for outsiders to win.

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

Nicaragua: A Return to Caudillismo

With the ruling FSLN’s one-sided triumph in the November 2016 elections, Nicaraguan democracy underwent further erosion. The emerging authoritarian party-state, far from being a leftist revolutionary government, is becoming a neopatrimonial dictatorship in an older Latin American style.

April 2017, Volume 28, Issue 2

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Bulgaria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Macedonia, Micronesia, Romania, Somalia, and Timor-Leste.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Tunisia’s Islamists and the “Turkish Model”

Ennahda has long felt an especially strong kinship with Turkey’s AKP, which has seen as representing a combination of piety, prosperity, and democratic credibility. How might their relationship be affected by the AKP's more recent authoritarian turn?

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Never-Boring Balkans: The Elections of 2016

Once Europe’s most painful “problem” area, the Balkans have managed to make strides toward stability, democracy, and integration into the West over the last fifteen or so years. But Moscow is becoming increasingly active in the region, and the durability of these gains should not be taken for granted.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

The Rise of “Localism” in Hong Kong

The September 2016 Legislative Council election marked the rise of a new political force that emphasizes the specific interests and identity of Hong Kong. It has especially been championed by many of the young people who swelled 2014’s Umbrella Movement protests.

January 2017, Volume 28, Issue 1

Election Watch

Reports on elections in Belarus, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Georgia, Haiti, Kuwait, Jordan, Lithuania, and more.

April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

Latin America’s New Turbulence: The End of the Kirchner Era

With a skillfully conveyed message of managerial competence and an electorate disenchanted by a floundering economy and the outgoing incumbent’s confrontational style, Mauricio Macri demonstrated that a non-Peronist can win Argentina’s presidency.

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April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

Burma Votes for Change: The Challenges Ahead

Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy swept Burma’s November 2015 elections. Will the new NLD-led government be able to live up to high expectations that it will deliver better governance, national reconciliation, and some form of federalism?

April 2016, Volume 27, Issue 2

Turkey’s Two Elections: The AKP Comes Back

In power since 2002, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seemed as if it might be losing its hold when Turkish voters went to the polls in June 2015. Yet that “hung election” gave way to another contest in November, and the AKP came roaring back.

January 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1

Ethiopia: Silencing Dissent

Ethiopia’s ruling party has long been tightening its grip, using antiterrorism laws and harsh restrictions on media and civil society to silence voices critical of the regime.

January 2016, Volume 27, Issue 1

A Win for Democracy in Sri Lanka

The surprising electoral defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa in January 2015 was reinforced by his failed comeback in August parliamentary elections.

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July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

Rwanda: Progress or Powder Keg?

Rwanda under Paul Kagame has been hailed for its visionary leadership, economic progress, and reforms in education, health, and agriculture. Yet the regime’s autocratic rule, human-rights abuses, persecution of the Hutu majority, and growing inequality point to an ominous future.

July 2015, Volume 26, Issue 3

Nigeria’s Hopeful Election

In a surprising turn of events, opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari was able to outpoll incumbent Goodluck Jonathan—and the latter peacefully acknowledged his defeat.

April 2015, Volume 26, Issue 2

Patching Things Up in Mozambique

Although elections take place on schedule in Mozambique, they are of dubious quality, and the most recent one was held amid an uneasy peace following renewed outbursts of civil strife. Major new gas and mineral finds promise a shot at greater prosperity, but also hold the threat of a “resource curse.”

January 2014, Volume 25, Issue 1

Georgian Democracy: Seizing or Losing the Chance?

A year after the election that ended the rule of president Mikheil Saakashvili’s National Movement, Georgia has seen further remarkable developments that raise key questions for struggling postcommunist democracies and, indeed, democracies everywhere. 

October 2013, Volume 24, Issue 4

Malaysia’s Elections: A Step Backward

Despite losing the popular vote, Malaysia’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional triumphed again in the country’s 2013 elections, disappointing an emboldened opposition that had high hopes after a strong performance in 2008.

October 2013, Volume 24, Issue 4

Exchange: Reexamining African Elections

Do even unfree and unfair elections in sub-Saharan Africa, if repeated often enough, really contribute to democratization? A fresh look at the evidence casts doubt on the theory of “democratization by elections.”

July 2013, Volume 24, Issue 3

Kenya’s 2013 Elections: Technology Is Not Democracy

In an effort to avoid repeating the 2007 electoral debacle, Kenya’s election commission turned to technology, but its high-tech voter-registration and vote-count processes fell short. Its experience has important lessons both for emerging democracies and for international donors.

July 2012, Volume 23, Issue 3

African Elections: Two Divergent Trends

Regular elections have become a fixture of political life throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but there are now “two Africas” in this regard: one where elections bring the blessings of greater political openness and competition, and another where elections are, in effect, one more tool that authoritarians use to retain power.

July 2012, Volume 23, Issue 3

Senegal: What Will Turnover Bring?

Although Senegal has often been regarded as a democracy, its regime should more properly have been classified as competitive authoritarian. Will the 2012 election of a new president prove to be a turning point?

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Southeast Asia: Thailand’s Uneasy Passage

In 2011, Thais reelected a party backed by deposed prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Why is his brand of populism so irrepressible, and what can be done to reconcile the voting power of Thailand’s rural lower classes with the establishment dug in around the Thai monarchy?

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Ballots, Bullets, and the Bottom Billion

Does recourse to the ballot box spur violence and instability in the world’s poorest countries? Despite the worries of modernization theorists such as Paul Collier, the evidence indicates that, over time, elections are not associated with higher levels of political violence.

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Argentina: The Persistence of Peronism

Despite a rocky first term, Peronist President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner saw her popularity rebound, leading to a huge reelection victory in 2011. Why is Peronism still the dominant “brand” in Argentine politics, and how has she come to own it so thoroughly?

April 2012, Volume 23, Issue 2

Election Watch

Reports on recent elections in Côte d'Ivoire, Croatia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Iran, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Russia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, and Yemen.

October 2011, Volume 22, Issue 4

Election Watch

Reports on recent elections in Cape Verde, Macedonia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Singapore, Thailand, and Turkey.

July 2011, Volume 22, Issue 3

Election Watch

Reports on recent elections in Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Estonia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Micronesia, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Singapore, and Uganda.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Afghanistan: An Election Gone Awry

The 2009 vote for the presidency and local councils was marred by fraud, provoking a political crisis and casting a deep shadow over upcoming parliamentary elections. The Afghan experience calls into question whether voting should occur before other essential reforms are in place.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Iraq: A Vote Against Sectarianism

Although many Iraqi parties continue to be organized along religious or ethnic lines, both the tone and the results of the 2010 parliamentary election campaign show that most Iraqi voters prefer a broader national agenda over narrow sectarian appeals.

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July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Lessons from Afghanistan and Iraq

After almost ten years of complex and costly efforts to build democracy in these two countries, where do things stand? What lay behind the critical choices that shaped events in these places, and what are their current prospects for success?

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Ukraine: The Uses of Divided Power

The 2010 presidential election shows that Ukraine is both a surprisingly stable electoral democracy and a disturbingly corrupt one. The corruption, moreover, may have a lot to do with the stability.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Ukraine: The Role of Regionalism

Although Ukraine’s regional divisions are often thought to be detrimental to state-building and democratization, they have in fact been a source of strength and helped to prevent tilts to the political extremes.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Chile: Are the Parties Over?

For the first time since the fall of Pinochet, the Chilean right has come to power via free elections. The long-ruling center-left coalition leaves behind many achievements, but also disturbing signs of a weakened party system.

July 2010, Volume 21, Issue 3

Election Observers and Their Biases

Why do election monitors sometimes issue contradictory statements or endorse flawed elections? The answers are not always straightforward; in some cases, the monitors’ good intentions may undermine their credibility.

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April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Democracy and Deep Divides

How do democracies deal with the deep divisions created by race, ethnicity, religion, and language? The cases of Canada, India, and the United States show that democratic institutions—notably, competitive elections and independent judiciaries—can bridge divides and build stability, but they must find a way to manage the tension between individual and group equality.

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April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Do Muslims Vote Islamic?

Those who warn against efforts to promote free elections in Muslim-majority countries often point to the threat posed by Islamic parties that stand ready to use democracy against itself. But what does the record really show regarding the ability of Islamic parties to win over Muslim voters?

April 2010, Volume 21, Issue 2

Mozambique’s Slide into One Party Rule

Once touted as a regional success story, Mozambique has been backsliding toward one-party-dominant rule, and has now slipped off the Freedom House list of electoral democracies. How and why did this happen?

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Authoritarianism’s Last Line of Defense

The new electoral authoritarian regimes of the post–Cold War era have formally adopted the full panoply of liberal-democratic institutions. Rather than rejecting or repressing these institutions, they manipulate them.

January 2010, Volume 21, Issue 1

Twenty Years of Postcommunism: In Search of A New Model

In the twenty years since 1989, acute excitement over democratic transition and consolidation gave way to symptoms of “democracy fatigue” and elite exhaustion; successful economic transition away from state socialism fell victim to a crisis of the free-market model; and the EU’s transformative power has reached its geopolitical limits. The nations of Central and Eastern…