Democracy and Elections in Africa: Critical Analysis

International Journal of Human Sciences, Vol. 5, Issue 2, 2008

Posted: 21 Jul 2008

Date Written: July 20, 2008


The aim of this article is to assess the democratization process in Africa in general and the multi-party elections in particular. The decolonization process in Africa (1960s and 1970s), which was known as the "first liberation" completed by the emergence of many, new independent African countries. In most of the newly liberated countries the political parties that led the anti-colonial struggle established one-party domination after independence. The rapid democratization process ("second liberation") in Africa began in the first half of the 1990s, particularly with Benin's multiparty election in 1991. In this period, multi-party elections had taken place in most of African countries. These transitions led to "limited" democracies, characterized by a lack of liberal freedoms, low levels of popular involvement (except at election times), narrow range of civil liberties and the concentration of political power in the hands of small elite groups. Holding an election is a milestone, but it is not the key to Africa's democratic legitimacy. Many elections in the African region have failed to meet the internationally accepted standards for free and fair elections. Though Africa's record on free and fair elections is mixed, at present, most of Africans have embraced elections as indispensable mechanism for determining their future course.

Keywords: Africa, election, electoral democracy, liberal democracy, Sub-Saharan Africa, wave of democratization

JEL Classification: N47, Zoo

Suggested Citation

Teshome-Bahiru, Wondwosen, Democracy and Elections in Africa: Critical Analysis (July 20, 2008). International Journal of Human Sciences, Vol. 5, Issue 2, 2008, Available at SSRN:

Wondwosen Teshome-Bahiru (Contact Author)

Forum für Sozialwissenschaften Forschung ( email )


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