Continuity or rupture of change? Trends in democracy and peace in recent African elections

Judith Vorrath, German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP)

Elections have become a common exercise in sub-Saharan Africa. A controversial debate has evolved around the question whether this has also led to an increase in democratic quality. While results indicate that there were improvements concerning liberalization and civil liberties in sub-Saharan Africa since 1989, these trends seem to have lost in force. Certainly, the development of regimes in the region has become much less clear, particularly since more comprehensive studies on elections in Africa have usually focused on the period after the end of the Cold War and do not provide insights for the last few years. Therefore, this paper analyzes the trends in the most recent wave of African elections in 2010 and 2011. It addresses the question of what developments in political regimes can be identified since the last round of general elections in the respective countries. The paper also discusses trends in peace and security in the context of recent polls as another central argument has linked democratization and elections to armed conflict and instability.

About the speaker
Judith Vorrath is a Transatlantic Post-Doc Fellow for International Relations and Security (TAPIR Programme). After staying at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington D.C. and the European Union Institute of Security Studies in Paris, she is currently based at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin. Her research focuses on (post-war) democratization and peacebuilding, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, and on the role of diaspora groups in peace processes. Judith holds a Doctor of Science from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). From 2005 to 2010, she pursued her studies as a Doctoral Student at the Center for Security Studies (CSS), Zuerich, and as a member of the NCCR Democracy (National Center of Competence in Research “Challenges to Democracy in the 21st Century”), engaged in a project on democratization in divided societies. Prior to joining the Center and the NCCR, she worked as a Research and Programme Coordinator at the Development and Peace Foundation (SEF) in Bonn. Judith studied political science at the Universities of Bonn and Edinburgh and holds a M.A. degree from the University of Bonn.

Venue: UNU-MERIT Conference Room

Date: 19 April 2012

Time: 12:30 - 13:30  CEST