Sunday, November 6, 2011

Democracy's Growth in Africa: Slow, Violent, and Worth Celebrating

Coauthored with John Campbell. Read the whole article at the Atlantic or at

Hopes are running high for Liberia's second presidential elections since the end of its brutal civil war. The first round of polling appears to be credible. And with former warlord and current senator Prince Johnson's endorsement, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head of state, is likely to win the run-off in November in what has been so far a largely fair and peaceful election. However, recent presidential elections in Ivory Coast and Nigeria risk overshadowing Liberia's consolidating democracy, and they are much larger countries. Both polls were historic: Ivory Coast's was the first since the end of civil war, and Nigeria's “better” election followed its 2007 “election-like event.” Nevertheless, they illustrate, alongside the polls in Kenya in 2007 and Zimbabwe in 2008, the potential for violent elections in profoundly divided countries. Twenty-seven African countries will hold local and national elections by the end of 2011, and at least seventeen more are expected next year. If elections are so often violent and polarizing, even when they are deemed free and fair, should the United States be promoting them? The answer is yes. Because Africans want them.

Read the rest of the article here.

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