Introduction: How can the existence or absence of a consolidated democracy be measured? In my paper I am going to compare the democratic advancement of two African countries. After defining the key points that will help me to measure the respective degrees of democratization, I am going to evaluate whether or not one can speak of consolidated democracies or not. When it comes to finding criteria for consolidated democracies, there can be found many resources not only in the academic world, but also by the United Nations and the IPU. The main criteria (see Dahl 1971, Lijphart 2010 or Linz and Stepan 1996) are: ·
free and fair elections
rule of law
freedom of the press
freedom of speech
However, considering the volume of this Assignment I will have to focus on the aspect of free and fair elections. Free elections are globally recognised as an important indication that a state is capable of implementing a genuine democracy. They gain a great deal of attention amongst politicians, researchers and journalists alike. For young democracies, they are an important event to measure their success in transforming to a democratic state. Examples during the last decade can be found in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2006, the first free elections for 40 years were held in the DR Congo (see Tull 2006). In 1994, the first free elections took place in Mozambique. The last two examples were accompanied by external endevours and great expectations regarding their impact on the democratizations of the two countries. When reading articles by both the international press and researchers, it becomes clear that free and fair elections were being assigned a central role in the process of democratization. This claim was not only made by almost all western government representatives, but also by large parts of the scientific community (see Tull 2006). Nevertheless, as important as free and fair elections are, there are many voices expressing doubt – not only regarding an externally established democracy but also regarding focussing merely on successfully conducted elections as an indication for democratization. I fully agree that free elections constitute a crucial step towards a fully consolidated democracy. However, there are at least two pitfalls when one aims at measuring the democratization of a country by the establishment of free elections. The first one is that it is often difficult to examine whether the hold elections are genuinely free or not. In the course of this Assignment, I will go into this more thoroughly. And secondly, even in the case that the presence of free and fair elections is given, they constitute only one step towards a consolidated democracy. The two case studies I have chosen for my Assignment will illustrate these difficulties. Applied to the area of the SADC states, amongst which are necessarily many young democracies, the question regarding the role of elections to consolidate democratic structures is of great timeliness. By analysing the two empirical cases of the DR Congo and Simbabwe, I am going to examine which part the elections played in the democratic process of the two states, what other aspects accounting for a consolidated democracy are missing and whether or not one can say that they are consolidated democracies or not.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (short: IPU; an international organisation of parliaments that has currently 155 member states) adopted criteria for free and fair elections in 1994. To speak of free and fair elections, according to IPU the following criteria have to be fulfilled (see IPU Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections): in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations the authority to govern shall be based on the will of the people that is to be expressed in regular and genuine elections. While the 1889 founded IPU unites international parliaments, the United Nations,...
Bibliography: Boda, Michael D. (Ed.) (2004): Revisiting Free and Fair Elections. An international round table on election standards organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Geneva: Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Lijphart, Arend (2010): Democratic Quality in Stable Democracies, 24 November 2010, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3003825/ (last visited: 15.12.2012).
Weibezahl, Tinko (2011): Wahlkampf mit zweifelhaften Mitteln, DR Kongo Länderbericht der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_21580-1522-130.pdf?110110212228 (last visited: 15.12.2012).
IPU Members of the Union, http://www.ipu.org/english/membshp.htm (last visited: 15.12.2012).
United Nations (2005): Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers. New York: United Nations.
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