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  • Author: Elizabeth Sperber, Gwyneth McClendon, O'Brien Kaaba
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: A significant literature suggests that religious conviction can drive political participation, perhaps because religious people internalize a moral obligation to act toward the common good and/or because religious conviction gives people a sense that their actions will make a difference. This paper presents findings from a community-collaborative pilot study in Zambia that examines these ideas. Zambia is an overwhelmingly Christian state experiencing dramatic democratic backsliding. Zambian churches are among the major providers of civic engagement education and programming. Together with our community partners, we randomly assigned Zambian youth (aged 18-35) volunteers into one-time civic engagement workshops. Identical basic civic educational material was presented in each workshop. Yet, we ended this curriculum with two different sets of pre-recorded Christian motivational messages: In 50% of the workshops, these messages emphasized a religious obligation to sacrifice for the common good. In the other 50%, the messages emphasized the power of faith to make change in the world. We found that the latter message (emphasizing the power of faith) moved workshop participants to be more willing to participate in peaceful protest, to disavow political violence, and to critically evaluate other people who choose not to participate in electoral politics. By contrast, the message focused on sacrifice for the common good did not affect political participation relative to baseline. We discuss how the study advances research on religion and political participation as well as knowledge about Christian civic education programs, which are prevalent but understudied throughout.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Politics, Religion, Democracy, Youth
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zambia
  • Author: Michael Asiedu
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Almost all African countries rolled out significant measure in response to Covid-19. From border closures through to the use of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to restricted gatherings and contact tracing, a combination of diverse public health safety strategies was employed. These same strategies nonetheless would make preparations toward holding smooth and timely elections cumbersome. Ghana’s electoral commissioner announced an indefinite postponement of its voter registration exercise, it is still in consultation with stakeholders on carrying out the exercise with only six months to its presidential and parliamentary elections if the timeline stays the same. Niger also suspended its voter registration exercise; Ethiopia postponed its elections entirely. Other countries that have had some forms of election postponement include Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Kenya.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana
  • Author: Abdelkhalig Shaib
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The place of religion in Sudan’s state has divided the country since its independence. In September, the transitional government agreed to separate religion and state, in an attempt to end the decades-long contention. Against the backdrop of past constitutional failures to adequately recognize and address Sudan’s diversity, this paper examines the implications of the recent Juba and Addis Ababa agreements in the country’s efforts to build a civil democratic state and the challenges ahead.
  • Topic: Religion, Democracy, State, State Building, Transition
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan
  • Author: Christine Hackenesch, Julia Leininger, Karina Mross
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: This paper reflects on the strategic importance of EU democracy support in sub-Saharan Africa and makes 10 proposals for reform to be better able to address new challenges in a changing global context.
  • Topic: European Union, Democracy, Polarization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Author: Paul Stronski
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: After a decades-long absence, Russia is once again appearing on the African continent. The Kremlin’s return to Africa, which has generated considerable media, governmental, and civil society attention, draws on a variety of tools and capabilities. Worrying patterns of stepped-up Russian activity are stirring concerns that a new wave of great-power competition in Africa is now upon us. U.S. policymakers frequently stress the need to counter Russian malign influence on the continent. On a visit to Angola in early 2019, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said that “Russia often utilizes coercive, corrupt, and covert means to attempt to influence sovereign states, including their security and economic partnerships.”1 Advocates for a more forceful Western policy response point to high-visibility Russian military and security cooperation in the Central African Republic and the wide-ranging travels of Russian political consultants and disinformation specialists as confirmation that Russia, like China, represents a major challenge in Africa. Yet is that really the case? Are Russian inroads and capabilities meaningful or somewhat negligible? Hard information is difficult to come by, but any honest accounting of Russian successes will invariably point to a mere handful of client states with limited strategic significance that are isolated from the West and garner little attention from the international community. It remains unclear whether Russia’s investments in Africa over the past decade are paying off in terms of creating a real power base in Africa, let alone putting it on a footing that will expand its influence in the years to come. Nevertheless, Russia increasingly looks to Africa as a region where it can project power and influence. President Vladimir Putin will welcome leaders from across the continent to Sochi in late October for the first Africa-Russia summit, a clear indication of the symbolic importance that Africa holds for the Kremlin right now.2 It is clear that Russian inroads there would be far more limited but for the power vacuums created by a lack of Western policy focus on Africa in recent years. That state of affairs gives Russia (and other outside powers) an opportunity to curry favor with the continent’s elites and populations. More than anything else, it is opportunism that propels Russia’s relatively low-cost and low-risk strategies to try to enhance its clout and unnerve the West in Africa, just as in Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Power Politics, Democracy, Geopolitics, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Judd Devermont
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: It is election season again in sub-Saharan Africa. Roughly every five years, the region faces a tidal wave of elections. In previous cycles, starting in the mid-1990s, the outcome was generally predictable. The ruling party leveraged its considerable advantages—including access to state resources—to secure another term. If the incumbent party rigged the poll, international monitors easily spotted the fraud and strenuously objected, even if to little effect. For the past two decades, five out of every six elections have produced the same result. This next batch of some two dozen elections will be different. A combination of demographic, technological, and geostrategic developments is disrupting the region’s electoral landscape. African leaders, opposition, and publics are adapting and writing a new playbook in the process. From street protests and parallel vote counts to election hacking and internet shutdowns, sub-Saharan African politics are becoming more competitive and more unpredictable. The case for democracy and improving the quality of elections is not simply a moral or altruistic one. U.S. national security objectives, including promoting prosperity and stability, are more achievable in democratic systems. Autocratic regimes, in contrast, worsen corruption, undercut sound economic management, and fail to produce long- term growth. Indeed, recent research indicates that Africa’s democracies grow at a faster rate than its autocracies, and this is more pronounced among countries that have been democracies for longer.1 Moreover, historically, democracies rarely have gone to war with one another. If the United States wants to advance its broad objectives in the region, it will need to reconceptualize its investments, partnerships, and interventions regarding elections.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Elections, Democracy, Election Interference
  • Political Geography: Africa, North America, United States of America, Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Author: Amy Erica Smith, Emma Rosenberg
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: In the last decade, scholars have begun to elaborate the diverse ways religion manifests in democracies. We draw on theories related to modernization, secularism, and religious competition, as well as survey data from the Comparative National Elections Project, to explain individual-level and country-level variation in religious politicking—religious leaders’ and organizations’ engagement in electoral campaigns. At the country level, though human development depresses the rate at which citizens receive political messages from religious organizations and clergy, both secularism and religious pluralism boost it. At the individual level, “civilizational” differences across religious groups are muted and inconsistent. However, across the globe, citizens with higher levels of education are consistently more likely to receive political messages—an effect that is stronger where religious politicking is more common. A case study of Mozambique further confirms the insights obtained when we unpack modernization and secularization theories.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Politics, Religion, Developing World, Democracy, Citizenship, Human Development
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mozambique, Global Focus, Global South
  • Author: Alex Sivalie Mbayo
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Social Science Research Council
  • Abstract: For several decades, since the end of civil wars in 2002, people with disabili- ties (PWDs) in Sierra Leone have faced severe constraints in exercising their rights to participate in democratic processes due to the absence of or poor implementation of enabling laws, mechanisms, and guidelines that promote and facilitate their equal participation in elections. This policy brief is based on findings from a study of the level of participa- tion of PWDs in Sierra Leone’s 2018 general elections. It concluded, among other things, that the level of PWD participation was higher compared with previous elections because of more effective awareness-raising and sensiti- zation activities targeting PWDs concerning the election process. This was reflected in PWDs’ familiarity with registration and voting processes, and the high turnout of about 72 percent in both the registration and voting pro- cesses. Additionally, PWDs’ engagement with political parties with respect to PWD-related issues in their manifestoes clearly validates this point. The high turnout of PWDs was highlighted in my interviews of National Electoral Commission (NEC) officials in all four study locations: Bo, Freetown, Ken- ema, and Makeni.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Disability, Participation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sierra Leone
  • Author: Kwesi Aning, Joseph Siegle
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Africa’s armed forces are in transition from an independence-era model to one more suited to today’s conflicts and threats. They are increasingly called upon to engage in preventive action, resolve domestic security crises, combat transnational threats, and protect the progression toward more democratic governance. Understanding how African security sector actors’ perceptions may be shifting in light of these changes can provide insights to improving their effectiveness. This study, involving 742 African security sector professionals from 37 countries, assesses differences in the attitudes, motivations, and values of the emerging generation of African security sector professionals. Understanding these differences may raise awareness, provide a basis for reform, and create an impetus for improving the citizen-security actor relationship.
  • Topic: Globalization, National Security, Democracy, State Building, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mediterranean, Sahara
  • Author: Kris Berwouts, Filip Reyntjens
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: EGMONT - The Royal Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Although the election of Félix Tshisekedi as president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was hailed as ‘the first peaceful transition since independence’, the election was anything but a democratic exercise. Indeed, Martin Fayulu was the real winner, not Tshisekedi. Suspected electoral fraud at the legislative elections has returned a parliament in which Kabila’s Common Front for Congo coalition (Front commun pour le Congo – FCC) holds a large majority. This will allow Kabila to keep real power in most domains of government. By endorsing this outcome in the knowledge that it was fraudulently obtained, the West and Africa have robbed the Congolese people of their choice.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Rigged Elections , State Abuse
  • Political Geography: Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Author: Rachid Tlemçani
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: As of 22 February 2019, a new chapter of Algeria’s history is being written, one which will establish a new relationship between Algerian citizens and their state. On that day, against all odds, tens of thousands of Algerians, regardless of gender, age, social or professional background, converged on cities and villages to voice their rejection of a fifth term for Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the forthcoming presidential elections. To the call of General Ahmed Gaïd Salah, the army’s chief of staff, to remove President Bouteflika as per Article 102 of the Constitution, and Bouteflika’s subsequent resignation on 2 April, Algerians responded with an even stronger mobilization and their own call, “Système, dégage!”
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Protests, State Building
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, North Africa, Mediterranean, Algeris
  • Author: Magdi El-Gizouli
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: With Sudanese protesters still shouting “Madaniyya” (civilian), only time will tell if the recently signed power-sharing accord will be a true step in the direction towards democratic transition or simply another manoeuvre in Sudan’s longstanding tradition of “tajility” and unfulfilled promises.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Protests, State Building
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, North Africa, Khartoum
  • Author: Lotfi Tarchouna
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: In order for decentralization to be effective and lead to greater equality in development and political engagement, both processes of codification (i.e. enshrining provisions in the constitution) and operationalization must be guided by strong legal and political foundations, principles and structures. The paper discusses the Tunisian experience of decentralization since the adoption of the 2014 Constitution that described the Tunisian state as a unitary state and enshrined administrative decentralization, thus consolidating the Tunisian decentralized state. It argues that after the fall of Ben Ali, decentralization was seen as a way to preserve the integrity of the unitary state in Tunisia while introducing instruments of participative democracy through a reinvigorated decentralization process. First, it presents the legal and political foundations for decentralization and the new structures that were set up to implement it. Second, the paper addresses the fiscal and logistical challenges of implementation, the importance of collective civil society engagement in decentralized structures and concludes with recommendations and lessons learned from this experience in a country that recently experienced democratic transition.
  • Topic: Democracy, State Building, Decentralization , Engagement
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Mediterranean, Tunis
  • Author: Souha Drissi
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: With the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi on 25 July, Tunisia’s presidential elections were moved up and will be held on 15 September 2019. By the end of the eight-day process of accepting nominations – from 2 to 9 August – the Independent High Authority for Elections (IHAE) had received 971 requests for nomination which include 75 independents and 11 female candidates. On 31 August, the IHAE released the final list of candidates for the presidential race, accepting 26 nominees, including two women, and rejecting 71 applications for failing to meet candidacy requirements. The IHAE is considered one of the achievements of the 2011 Revolution. It is a nine-member permanent body based in Tunis which enjoys administrative and financial independence. Its mission is to “ensure democratic, pluralistic, fair and transparent elections and referendums”2 and supervise and oversee all related processes. The election campaigns started on 2 September and will continue until 13 September, with 17 September as the deadline for the announcement of the preliminary election results and 21 October for the announcement of the final results. In case of no absolute majority vote, a second round will be held after two weeks.3
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Democracy, State Building
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Tunis
  • Author: Souha Drissi
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: With the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi on 25 July, Tunisia’s presidential elections were moved up and will be held on 15 September 2019. By the end of the eight-day process of accepting nominations – from 2 to 9 August – the Independent High Authority for Elections (IHAE) had received 971 requests for nomination which include 75 independents and 11 female candidates. On 31 August, the IHAE released the final list of candidates for the presidential race, accepting 26 nominees, including two women, and rejecting 71 applications for failing to meet candidacy requirements. The IHAE is considered one of the achievements of the 2011 Revolution. It is a nine-member permanent body based in Tunis which enjoys administrative and financial independence. Its mission is to “ensure democratic, pluralistic, fair and transparent elections and referendums”2 and supervise and oversee all related processes. The election campaigns started on 2 September and will continue until 13 September, with 17 September as the deadline for the announcement of the preliminary election results and 21 October for the announcement of the final results. In case of no absolute majority vote, a second round will be held after two weeks.3
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Democracy, State Building
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Tunis
  • Author: Ishac Diwan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: During its first years of transition to a democratic order, Tunisia's efforts were predominantly focused on addressing political challenges. The performance of the country in this regard has been generally positive, as it has managed to consolidate democratic gains despite challenges related to the polarization of politics around identity and religious issues, the rise in insecurity related to attacks by extremist groups, and even the general disenchantment of voters for the existing political elites. However, the gains on the political front came at the expense of economic setbacks. One of the main challenges for the coming period will thus be largely economic. High unemployment, unfulfilled demands for social justice, the rise in corruption, and most importantly in the short term, an unsustainable macroeconomic trajectory, all threaten to upset recent political gains. If the upcoming administration does not address them, social discontent would endanger the hard-won democratic gains.
  • Topic: Religion, Social Movement, Democracy, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Tunisia, Mediterranean, Tunis
  • Author: Redouane Boudjemaa
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: On 17 November, the presidential campaign, which the Algerian authorities insist on organizing on 12 December, officially started. This is despite opposition from large segments of Algerians, expressed through rallies across the majority of provinces in Algeria. These protests strongly express the widely held perception amongst the protesters that the upcoming elections will only renew the system (le pouvoir) and anchor the survival of the military regime imposed on the country since 1962. Two prominent slogans sum up this refusal, across all the protests, "no election with the gangs", highlighting the corruption of the regime, evident through the presence of the figures from the era of the resigned/removed president Bouteflika. The other slogan is, "Civilian, not a military, state", meaning that the protesters demand the building of a civilian state, not a military one. It is this slogan that confirms the necessity of breaking, on an epistemological level, with the militarization and securitization on which the political regime was built since Algeria’s independence from France in July 1962. Departing from an attempt to understand the popular movement’s refusal of the 12 December elections, and the authorities’ rigidity to impose its will and pass the election by force, this paper tries to analyze the trajectories of the five candidates in the election, the calculations of the authority, and those of the popular movement, before moving on to some likely scenarios in case the authorities succeeded, or failed, to impose the ballots.
  • Topic: Democracy, Election watch, Protests, Military Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria, North Africa, Algeris
  • Author: Jennifer N. Brass, Kirk Harris, Lauren M. MacLean
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: Almost all African states face pressure to deliver improved public services to their citizens. In both emerging democracies and persistent authoritarian regimes, politics profoundly shapes how states distribute public goods such as roads, schools, health clinics, and electricity access (Briggs, 2014; Dixit & Londregan, 1996; Harding & Stasavage, 2014; Kramon & Posner, 2013; Min, 2015; Weingast, Shepsle, & Johnsen, 1981). But in addition to questions of how politics shapes distributive outcomes, scholars have recently turned to a new question: How does variation in public service provision subsequently shape political participation (Bodea & LeBas, 2016; Harding, 2015)? Here, the findings are less clear. Where some authors find that the receipt of public service provision stimulates participation (Bleck, 2015; Wantchekon, Klašnja, & Novta, 2015), others caution that service provision may actually undermine engagement or have no effect (Croke, Grossman, Larreguy, & Marshall, 2015; Kam & Palmer, 2008; Mattes & Mughogho, 2009). Most of this literature has focused on the political effects of the delivery of social welfare services, especially education. Meanwhile, the political effects of electricity provision have been largely overlooked. Electricity provision is important for political outcomes for several reasons. Historically, in some African countries, electricity provision was tightly linked to the independence struggle and to rights of citizenship (MacLean, Gore, Brass, & Baldwin, 2016). Yet despite these expectations, African countries continue to have the lowest rates of electrification in the world. Only about one-third of Africans have access to electricity (International Energy Agency, 2014), and only two-thirds live in a community with any grid access (Oyuke, Penar, & Howard, 2016), and these rates are much lower in rural areas in most countries (Leo, Morello, & Ramachandran, 2015).
  • Topic: Education, Democracy, Public Policy, Public Sector, Electricity, Public Health
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Joshua Krasna
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: Much ink has been and is being spilt regarding whether or not current developments in Algeria and Sudan – the second and third most populous Arab states after Egypt – constitute the Second Wave of the “Arab Spring”. But what is clear is that the second and succeeding waves of Arab Uprisings will not look the same as that of 2011.
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Middle East, Algeria, Egypt
  • Author: Jonathan Spyer
  • Publication Date: 05-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS)
  • Abstract: Events in Sudan and Libya suggest that the core dynamic in the Arab world has not changed: authoritarian military regimes and political Islam remain the key players, popular sovereignty remains a distant aspiration
  • Topic: Social Movement, Authoritarianism, Democracy, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Libya
  • Author: Kressen Thyen
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: In the Middle East and North Africa, EU foreign policy has tended to prioritise regime stability over democratisation. Existing research has argued that this could create anti‐European sentiment in the respective populations. However, empirical evidence on the relationship between the EU’s stance towards regime change and citizen attitudes remains rare. Focusing on Morocco and Egypt, this study uses a mixed‐methods approach, combining qualitative case studies with original survey data to examine whether the EU’s divergent responses to the 2011 uprisings in these two countries are mirrored in regime opponents’ support for EU cooperation.
  • Topic: Social Movement, European Union, Democracy, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Middle East, Egypt, Morocco
  • Author: Wolfgang Mühlberger
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The municipal elections in May were the first major step towards an ambitious decentralisation project in Tunisia. Yet although the administrative structure is continuing to evolve alongside a democratising system, the aim of improving the state-society relationship has been jeopardised by record-level abstentions.
  • Topic: Reform, Elections, Democracy, Decentralization
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Progress toward institutionalizing the norm of presidential term limits in Africa has been mixed. Leaders in 5 countries have evaded term limits since 2015, bringing the number of countries lacking term limits to 18. In contrast, 21 African countries have upheld presidential term limits, and an additional 15 now have such limits on the books. These limits, in turn, have wide-ranging implications
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Political structure, Political stability, Institutionalism
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa
  • Author: Ofir Winter, Khander Sawaed
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)
  • Abstract: As expected, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was reelected Egyptian president in late March 2018, this time, with 97.08 percent of the vote. More than affording an electoral mandate, the recent elections highlighted the incumbent president's challenge of legitimacy, which is reflected in two spheres. The first is the exacerbation of the internal splits within the ruling military establishment. The second is growing alienation between the ruling establishment and the general Egyptian public and civilian elements. The precarious state of the regime's legitimacy is a cause for regional and international concern. It may detract from the regime's ability to carry out the next stages of the economic reform sponsored by the International Monetary Fund, and will complicate efforts to obtain the cooperation in the war against terrorism by the local civilian population in the Sinai Peninsula. In the medium and long terms, the enhanced internal friction in the military and tension between the ruling establishment and civilian forces may jeopardize the country's stability. The legitimacy challenge also affects Egypt's relations with Israel. The regime needs broad public legitimacy in order to incur political risks, such as controversial decisions in favor of bilateral or regional cooperation with Israel. In addition, a regime with unsteady legitimacy might be tempted to adopt a populist anti-Israel line in order to strengthen its public standing. At the same time, the political situation in Egypt also provides an opportunity for increasing bilateral cooperation with Israel in areas contributing to the regime's legitimacy: the economy, security, energy, water, agriculture, and tourism.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Legitimacy, IMF
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel, Egypt
  • Author: Sarah J. Lockwood, Matthias Krönke
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Afrobarometer
  • Abstract: This paper asks whether a country’s choice of electoral system affects the methods citizens use to try to hold their government accountable. A large body of literature suggests that electoral system type has an impact on voting behaviour, but little work has been done on its effects on other strategies for democratic accountability, such as contacting an elected representative and protesting. Using data from 36 African countries, we find that the type of electoral system has a significant relationship with these forms of participation. Citizens in proportional representation (PR) systems are significantly more likely to protest than those in majoritarian ones, while those in majoritarian systems are more likely to contact their elected representatives. We argue that this is because the connection between citizens and representatives in majoritarian systems is clearer, closer, and more responsive, making contact an effective strategy and providing an efficient "safety valve" when citizens want to hold their government to account. The lack of a similar connection in most PR systems, in contrast, leads citizens to turn to protest with greater regularity.
  • Topic: Government, Elections, Democracy, Accountability
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Kristin McKie
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Since presidential term limits were (re)adopted into many constitutions during the third wave of democratization, 207 presidents across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have reached the end of their terms in office. Of these, 30% have attempted to contravene term limits whereas 70% have stepped down in compliance with tenure rules. Furthermore, of the presidents who have attempted to alter tenure restrictions, some have succeeded in fully abolishing term limits, others have only managed a one-term extension, while a minority have failed in their bids to secure any additional terms in office. What explains these divergent trajectories? On the basis of a series of statistical analyses, I argue that trends in electoral competition over time are the best predictor of the range of term limit contravention outcomes across the board, with the least competitive elections permitting full term limit abolition and the most competitive elections saving off attempts at altering executive tenure rules. Furthermore, results show that failed contravention attempts are true borderline cases, rather than instances gross miscalculations of success by the president and her party, in that they feature less competitive elections than non-attempt cases but more competitive elections than successful contravention cases. These findings suggest a linkage between political uncertainty and constitutional stability more generally.
  • Topic: Democratization, Democracy, Institutions, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Asia, Latin America
  • Author: Michelle Nicholasen
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Jean and John Comaroff, professors in the Departments of African and African American Studies and of Anthropology, divide their teaching and research between Harvard and universities in South Africa. Their scholarship has focused on colonialism and the transformation of societies in the postcolonial and late modern worlds. A recent joint effort, The Truth about Crime, documents their “existential engagement” with the interplay of crime, policing, and sovereignty, in response to what they see as a rising global preoccupation. The Comaroffs joined the academic boycott of South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s until the transition of power and formal end of apartheid in 1994. Upon their return to Cape Town, they immediately noticed an overwhelming preoccupation with crime in South Africa. Their desire to unpack this obsession, and what it says about modernity and our relationship to the state, is the subject of their book. Together, the Comaroffs consider the economic, political, and sociological shifts that underlie modern attitudes toward criminality and how these shifts have contributed to the fear of one another, to racial violence, and to public distrust in government. The Weatherhead Center spoke to the Comaroffs from their home in Cape Town, and asked them to tease out some of the complex relationships between crime and policing and how they affect the concept of citizenship.
  • Topic: Crime, Politics, Democracy, Police
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States, South Africa, North America
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: African leaders’ adherence to constitutional term limits is a key component of institutionalizing predictable norms of democratic succession. Progress toward establishing this norm has been mixed, however. While a number of African countries have succeeded in upholding term limits over the past two decades, leaders in more than 20 countries effectively do not face restrictions on their time in power.
  • Topic: Democracy, Political structure, Political stability, Institutionalism
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, Southern Africa
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The strong overlap of autocracy and conflict in Africa underscores the strong political dimensions of Africa’s contemporary conflicts.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Democracy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Central Africa, Horn of Africa
  • Author: Nkwachukwu Orji
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Social Science Research Council
  • Abstract: Despite widely held concerns about the likelihood of a destabilizing outcome, Nigeria suc- cessfully conducted its general elections on March 28 and April 11, 2015. The peaceful and positive result came to many as a surprise, considering the difficult political and secu- rity environment in which the elections were conducted. Five major obstacles had stood in the way of their going smoothly: the competing claims to the presidency by northern and southern politicians; a keenly contested campaign smeared by inflammatory messages; the grave security threat posed by the Boko Haram insurgency; allegations of politically motivated postponement of the elections; and gaps in electoral preparations. This briefing assesses Nigeria’s 2015 general elections, highlighting factors that enabled the country to avoid larger-scale violence and lessons that can be learned from its experience.
  • Topic: Elections, Democracy, Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Nigeria
  • Author: Youngjin Kim
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East Asia Institute (EAI)
  • Abstract: Since the fall of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011, the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” has reasserted the universality of democracy. The question then of whether a “Jasmine Revolution” would occur in China has drawn the attention of foreign and domestic observers as well as raised the concern of the Chinese government. Today, even at the official level, the scope of debate on so called “Western-style” democracy is very limited in China regardless of the political standing of any politician whether conservative or progressive. It would be impossible to imagine in this case that there could be any debate over democracy that would lead to sweeping political reforms in the Chinese Communist Party. While on the other end of the political spectrum, a grass roots movement for democracy is also unlikely to develop. Most of the core figures involved in the democratic movement are either in exile overseas, under heavy restrictions at home, or have lost their momentum as time has passed by. Furthermore, possibly the greatest obstacle to any democratization movement in China is the reluctance of the middle-class. While often considered as a powerful driver for democratization in the rest of the world, it would be difficult to expect them to play the same role in China. Simply, the middle-class is the greatest beneficiaries of state-led economic growth and is unlikely to take part in any rapid political transformation. In this regard, the Chinese middle-class is far more conservative than that of any other country. To what extent then would a “Jasmine Revolution” be possible? There are four possible scenarios on the prospect for democratization in China. First, continued high economic growth is destined to bring about democratization. From the perspective of functionalism, improved standards of living as well as expansion of higher education, media, and an increasing consciousness of human rights will make democratization feasible within a certain period. However, such a viewpoint has some limits in that it blindly applies the experiences of the West and a few countries in East Asia to China without any consideration for its distinct history and social conditions. Second, there is the possibility for democratization due to impending social challenges mounting in China. In other words, if a combination of social problems builds up, the Chinese government would be unable to manage them under in its current repressive way. In this situation, the government would have to introduce democratic measures, such as freedom of speech and direct elections, to a substantial extent. Such a prospect though is unlikely to happen in the near future since high economic growth, increases in consumer expenditure, and the elevation of China’s international status will continue for a while, unless a major economic crisis were to occur in China or in neighboring countries. Even if such a crisis were to occur and the Chinese government implements measures for political reform, a soft-landing through democratization would not be guaranteed. Rather, it is highly probable that the unresolved problems would weaken the political control of the government and lead to political disorder. Third, a kind of flexible authoritarianism may be sustained for a long time. China has secured its legitimacy among the population through rapid economic growth, social welfare, administrative efficiency, and an assertive foreign policy. Simultaneously, it has maintained the stability of its system through strict control, systematization, and mass mobilization. Such a flexible authoritarian government is considered a prime alternative to Western-style democracy by the Chinese leadership and pro-government scholars. From such a viewpoint, it would seem unlikely to expect democratization in China for the time being. Lastly, there is a possibility that China would experience political chaos and division, a scenario that covers neither gradual democratization nor flexible authoritarianism. Authoritarian governments unable to actively promote reforms in the political system often fail to meet the social demands which have accumulated as marketization expands. Continued corruption and incompetence in the government leads to public dissatisfaction and might bring about the collapse of the system as in Eastern Europe. In Eastern Europe, countries had implemented ‘shock therapy’ solutions to fix the problems of the socialist system. However, such rapid changes, in some cases, caused severe chaos rather than bring about a smooth transition to democracy. This hard landing scenario cannot be excluded in regarding the future of democratization in China. From a realistic perspective, even though China cannot avert the flow of democratization in the end, top-down democratization or limited democratic reform led by the Chinese Communist Party is more likely as Chinese civil society has yet to fully mature. Nevertheless, as political reforms would weaken the Chinese Communist Party and increase social instability, top-down democratization is likely to be restricted. And this limited reform might even fail to solve social problems ahead. In this case where there is no alternative social force for the Communist Party and its leadership, the direction for the development of Chinese politics will be unpredictable and could bring about unexpected results. China will therefore go through a difficult transition period due to intricate conflicts among domestic political forces.■
  • Topic: Social Movement, Democracy, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Middle East, Asia