Subject: Elections

July 2011, Volume 22, Issue 3

Belarus: A Tale of Two Elections

Strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s suspiciously lopsided 2010 electoral victory—and subsequent crackdown on dissent—may seem like a repeat of the events of 2006, but much has changed in the interval, and his regime is much more precarious today.

July 2011, Volume 22, Issue 3

Uganda: Museveni’s Triumph and Weakness

Despite signs of a cautious willingness to allow more political competition, the regime of newly reelected president Yoweri Museveni fell back on familiar habits of brutal repression when public unrest followed a sudden spike in the cost of living.

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.

January 2011, Volume 22, Issue 1

Arab Islamist Parties: Losing on Purpose?

In most Arab countries, Islamist groups are the only ones with the popular support needed to win free and fair elections. Yet Islamist parties have shown an ambivalence about and in some cases even an aversion to seeking power via the ballot box.

October 2010, Volume 21, Issue 4

Reformism vs. Populism in the Philippines

May 2010, Benigno Aquino III bested a crowded field to win the presidency. The election, which was remarkably clean and orderly, gave a clear victory to the reformist narrative that has long vied with populism in the Philippines.

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…

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October 2009, Volume 20, Issue 4

Iran in Ferment: Civil Society’s Choice

When students and other rights activists decided to seize a tactical opening that the regime cynically offered them during the 2009 campaign, they were making a choice that was even more fateful than they knew.

October 2009, Volume 20, Issue 4

Jordan: Ten More Years of Autocracy

Jordan gets much good press for having one of the more open and liberal regimes in the Arab world, but that reputation masks a considerably grimmer reality.

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Bangladesh’s Fresh Start

After a nearly two-year interlude of authoritarian rule, Bangladeshis voted decisively for democracy, a secular approach to politics, and the center-left. The challenge now is to show that parliamentary democracy can deliver stability and socioeconomic progress.

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Scottish Democracy in a Time of Nationalism

The Scottish National Party proposes to free Scotland from its supposed tutelage to London, but betrays habits of political centralism and elitism that raise questions about the quality of democracy an independent Scotland would enjoy.

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July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Malaysia’s Electoral Upheaval

In March 2008, Malaysian voters dealt the long-ruling National Front coalition an enormous shock—pushing that party closer to losing power than it has ever been in Malaysia’s entire history as an independent country.  

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

The Turnover in El Salvador

In March 2009, El Salvador saw its first peaceful alternation of power since independence, as the FMLN, a former guerilla movement that laid down its arms in 1992, finally won the presidency.

July 2009, Volume 20, Issue 3

Election Watch, July 2009

Reports on recent elections in Algeria, Ecuador, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Maldives, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Panama, Slovakia, and South Africa.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Hugo Chávez’s “Petro-Socialism”

Will Hugo Chávez’s victory in the 15 February 2009 vote to end term limits enable him to drive Venezuela toward “Bolivarian socialism”? There are reasons to doubt this, but for now democracy’s prospects do not look encouraging.

April 2009, Volume 20, Issue 2

Another Step Forward for Ghana

Ghana held its fourth successful elections in late 2008 and subsequently witnessed the peaceful handover of power from ruling party to opposition. The country’s leaders must now reform its institutions of governance.

October 2008, Volume 19, Issue 4

Pakistan After Musharraf: The 2008 Elections

Elections set the stage for the General’s exit after nearly a decade in power, yet Pakistan still faces deep-seated structural problems that cannot be remedied merely by a return to competitive electoral politics.

October 2008, Volume 19, Issue 4

Zimbabwe’s Long Agony

Once hailed as liberators, Zimbabwe’s ruling party now clings to power through violent repression. How did the country’s founding father become its dictator, and what patterns in his party’s past foretold such an outcome?

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

South Korea’s Miraculous Democracy

Despite South Korea’s messy democratic trajectory, it has miraculously achieved consolidation. Though far from perfect, South Korea’s democracy has turned obstacles into opportunities for reform and development.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

The Remarkable Story of Somaliland

Emerging from one of the world’s most notorious failed states, Somaliland has become an oasis of relative democratic stability in the troubled Horn of Africa. What does its story teach us about democratic state-building?

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

The Crisis in Kenya

For years Kenya was regarded as one of Africa’s sturdiest democracies. The fraudulent 2007 presidential election, however, exposed the fragility of Kenya’s democratic framework.

July 2008, Volume 19, Issue 3

Election Watch

Reports on recent elections in Bhutan, the Dominican Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Georgia, Iran, Kuwait, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Nepal, Paraguay, Serbia, South Korea, Taiwan, Tonga, and Zimbabwe.

April 2008, Volume 19, Issue 2

Politics, Markets, and Society in Lula’s Brazil

Brazil under Lula offers a test case of how politicians and societal interests in developing countries react when economic growth and new possibilities change the name of the game from shock and scarcity to boom and prosperity.

April 2008, Volume 19, Issue 2

Election Watch, April 2008

Reports on recent elections in Armenia, Barbados, Belize, Bhutan, Croatia, Djibouti, Georgia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, South Korea, Serbia, Taiwan, and Thailand.

January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Morocco’s Elections: A Dynamic Civil Society

Since the 1990s, Moroccan civil society groups have been proliferating, and they are increasingly influential in addressing society-wide matters including the rights of women, ethnic minorities, and the poor.

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January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Turkey Divided

Events surrounding Turkey's 2007 elections reveal a country with a vibrantly democratic political sphere and a society badly split over the role of Islam in national life.

January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Sierra Leone: A Vote for Better Governance

Five years after the close of a horrifying civil war, Sierra Leone held the freest elections in its history. Voters turned out the party that had overseen the war's end, blaming it for having mishandled governance since then.

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January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

The Arroyo Imbroglio in the Philippines

Asia's oldest democracy is sinking into a morass of corruption and scandal. The Philippines' president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, continues to undermine the country's democratic institutions in order to remain in power.

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January 2008, Volume 19, Issue 1

Senegal: The Return of Personalism

Senegal's 2000 presidential election marked the end of forty years of one-party rule. But the reign of President Wade has been a severe disappointment, dashing hopes for democratic consolidation. *This is a corrected text of the print and original online version of this essay, portions of which drew heavily on Tarik Dahou and Vincent Foucher's…

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

Nigeria’s Muddled Elections

The failure of the elections has been partly mitigated by the hope of judicial review of electoral malfeasance, the stabilizing ingenuity of ethno-regional power-sharing, and renewed national discussions of electoral reforms.

October 2007, Volume 18, Issue 4

Election Watch, October 2007

A report on recent elections in Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Guatemala, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Mali, Morocco, Papau New Guinea, Philippines, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Turkey, and Ukraine.

April 2007, Volume 18, Issue 2

Voting for Change in the DRC

The holding of competitive elections in this vast, strife-torn country must count as a significant achievement, even though voters signaled their disaffection with the entire array of political elites that had been ruling them.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

The Mexican Standoff: The Mobilization of Distrust

Mexico’s system of electoral governance and dispute settlement worked reasonably well, yet it created too much noise and too many needless invitations to distrust. The failures observed were less those of institutions than of actors. The loser reacted deplorably, but none of those involved acted in a manner beyond reproach.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

Malaysia: Turnover Without Change

When Abdullah Ahmad Badawi succeeded Mahathir Mohamad as prime minister in 2003, many expected far-reaching change in Malaysia. So far, however, turnover at the top has not led to significant democratic progress.

January 2007, Volume 18, Issue 1

Candidate Selection: The Choice Before the Choice

Voters casting ballots are an indispensable element of free government, but who decides which names go on those ballots? Although methods of candidate selection have received surprisingly little study by political scientists, they merit the attention of students of democracy everywhere.

October 2006, Volume 17, Issue 4

Election Watch, October 2006

A review of recent elections in Congo (Kinshasa), Dominican Republic, Gambia, Guyana, Kuwait, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Sao Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Slovakia, Yemen, and Zambia.

July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Election Rigging and How to Fight It

Authoritarian regimes around the world hold elections and manipulate them every step of the way. How do we understand and work around the challenges these regimes pose to what should be a clean and democratic electoral process?

July 2006, Volume 17, Issue 3

Election Watch, July 2006

A review of recent elections in Belarus, Benin, Chad, Columbia, Comoros, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Fiji, Haiti, Hungary, Peru, Samoa, São Tomé and Príncipe, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, Thailand, and Ukraine.

April 2006, Volume 17, Issue 2

Azerbaijan’s Frustrating Elections

The 2005 elections were marked by massive fraud, but the democratic world mostly looked the other way. Azerbaijani society remains receptive to democracy, but the regime clearly has other plans—and will soon have massive oil wealth to fund them.

April 2006, Volume 17, Issue 2

Election Watch, April 2006

A review of recent elections in Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, COlombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Palestinian Territories, Samoa, Sïo Tomé & Príncipe, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, and Venezuela.