Elections have facilitated the emergence of democratic governments in Africa, and, in some cases, more stable societies have emerged. In some other cases, however, elections have been manipulated to legitimize autocratic regimes or to ensure dynastic successions on the continent. Violence still plagues approximately 20-25 percent of elections in Africa, and forty-one of the fifty-four countries on the continent will organize elections in 2011 and 2012 (see map of upcoming elections).
On July 19, 2011, IPI hosted a roundtable discussion on “Elections in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities.” The conversation included approximately forty United Nations (UN) Secretariat officials, African UN permanent mission representatives, NGO officials, and academics.
Participants found that Africa has made tremendous progress during the past couple of decades, both normatively and in practice, in developing principles of democracy and good governance. However, they also agreed that much work remains to be done so that elections become part of a broader political framework that promotes good governance, the rule of law, and equal participation in politics.
This meeting note was drafted by Mireille Affa’a-Mindzie, IPI Senior Policy Analyst, and Paul Romita, IPI Policy Analyst at the time and now Research Analyst at Security Council Report.