Tuesday, 30 June 2015

New report: Electoral integrity in Africa

Since its launch in 2012, the Electoral Integrity Project has studied electoral integrity around the world, considering such notions as why electoral integrity matters, why elections fail, and what can be done to address these problems.

A regional focus on Africa

EIP's research programme on Perception of Elections Integrity (PEI) is an ongoing initiative which does not only allow a comparison between countries, but over time will enable us to compare consecutive elections within countries as well as identifying regional trends. Providing an in-depth analysis of recent elections in 28 African countries, this is EIP's first report that presents findings of the study of electoral integrity in a specific region. A continent of great diversity, African elections are under-studied in comparison with Europe or America.

The Hanns Seidel Foundation, a German non-profit organization promoting democracy, good governance and the rule of law across the African continent,  commissioned the report, which was launched in Cape Town on 22 June 2015 by EIP's Ferran Martínez i Coma and Judge Johann Kriegler, former Constitutional Court Judge of the South African Constitutional Court.

The Foundation has welcomed the report, and the PEI index on which the findings are based. Noting that "it is currently the best rating tool available", the Foundation recognises that this is the first attempt to measure electoral integrity across the African continent, and hopes it will stimulate the debate on the integrity of political contests across Africa.

During 2015, Zambia, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Burundi and Burkina Faso, among others, have voted or are expected to do so. The integrity of the elections is crucial, not only for normative reasons, but for instrumental factors, such as the internal stability of the country, and citizens’ satisfaction with their regimes. We are currently gathering data on those contests and hopefully this will be the first of many reports to come.

Purpose of the report

The purpose of this report is twofold. First, to present the African results of the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity expert surveys, and then to analyse important elements at play in shaping the integrity of African elections. Much attention has been placed on polling day and the immediate administration of elections, but Ferran Martínez i Coma and Max Grömping show that many other elements of the electoral cycle are key to the integrity of the elections. 

Eight main findings:

  1. The degree of threats to electoral integrity is more severe in Africa when compared to the rest of the world.
  2. The types of problems in Africa are similar to those found in the rest of the world. Put simply, there is no African electoral exceptionalism.
  3. The report highlights the fact that elections can fail long before election day, so attention should be paid to the electoral dynamics and institutional quality over the entire election cycle not just election day.
  4. State resources for elections are important, but not determinant.
  5. Difficulties in regulating campaign finance extend across the continent.
  6. The vote count is consistently the highest rated part of the election cycle.
  7. Countries with good overall electoral integrity may still perform poorly in certain dimensions of the electoral cycle, on the other hand, low overall performers may excel in certain dimensions.
  8. Two country case studies of Malawi and Mozambique highlight that countries with similar levels of economic development can have vastly different outcomes of electoral integrity.

Download the report

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