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Ten things to know about elections and democracies

10 Things to know about elections and democracy Alina Rocha Menocal 1 1985 2000 2011 Most countries today are formal democracies An astonishing political transformation has taken place around the world over the past three decades. Today, a majority of countries are considered formal democracies. Even the Middle East, a region that long seemed immune to democratisation, is in the midst of momentous change. The Arab Spring swept from office long standing authoritarian rulers in Tunisia, Egypt , Libya and Yemen who cumulatively had been in power for a total of 129 years. 44.7% 81.9% 87.8% 55,3% 18.1% 12.2% By the end of 2011, the only countries considered autocracies were: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Laos, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Swaziland, Syria, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan. Sources. Economist Intelligence Unit (2011) Democracy indes 2011. Democracy Under Stress London: Economist Inteligence Unt, Chilton, Cyana (nd) The Chronology of Poltical Change. Blog post. Woodrow Wison Center Autocracy Formal democracy Over one in three live in authoritarian systems According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index 2011, 62.4% of the world population live in democracies of some form, while 37.6% of the world population still live in authoritarian systems. China alone accounts for 19.3% of people not living in formal democratic systems. Source: Economist Intelligence Unit (2011) Democracy Index 2011: Demacracy Under Stress London: Economst Inteljgence Unt Formal democracy Autocracy China 3 2000-2012 Elections have become almost universal In country after country, people have risked their lives to call for free elections, and elections have been held in all but five countries from 2000-2012. Clearly, there is a lot more to democracy than elections - but elections are among its most visible elements, and they have become almost universal. Qatar China Saudi Arabia The only five countries in the world (with populations greater than 500K) not to hold elections between 2000 and 2012 are: China, Eritrea, Oatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates Sources Hyde, Susan (2011) The Pseudo-Democrat's Dilamma: Why Election Obsenvation Became an intermational Norm. New York Cormel University Press, Personal communication with Susan Hyde, Associate Professor of Poltical Science and International Affairs, Yale University (22 Febnuary 2013) ONLY O COUNTRIES HAVE NOT HELD ELECTIONS 4 AFRICAN LEADERS REMOVED BY VIOLENT MEANS 1960-1979 2000-2005 Most leaders in Africa are replaced by ballots, not bullets While in the 1960s and 1970s approximately 75% of African leaders were ousted through violent means (coup d'etats, rebellion), in the period 2000-2005 this number had dropped to 19%. Source: Posner, Daniel N. and Young. Daniel J. (2007) The Institutionsization of Political Power in Africa Joumal of Demacracy 183) 120-140 75% 19% SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 1999-2007 But elections are not always peaceful While clections may be essential in promoting legitimacy, stability and development, they can also be deeply problematic. Elections can spark violent conflict, especially when they generate 'winner takes all' dynamics that raise the stakes of political competition. As the example of Kenya in 2007 illustrates, this can be especially treacherous where ethnicity or other fault lines of conflict such as region or religion determine political allegiance. For example, a recent study has estimated that between 1990 and 2007 one in five elections in Sub- 1 IN 5 ELECTIONS SUFFERED GRAVE VIOLENCE Saharan Africa suffered significant violence and only about 40% were entirely violence-free. Significant violence here refers to violent repression (c.g. long-term high-level arrests of party leaders, consistent use of violent intimidation, limited use of murders and assassinations, and torture) and/or highly violent campaigns, in which there are repeated, coordinated physical attacks leading to 20 or more deaths. Source. Straus, Scott and Taylor, Charlie (2009) Democratization and Electoral Violence in Sub- Saharan Arca, 1990-2007. Madson University of Wisconsin ONLY ABOUT 4U% WERE VIOLENCE FREE 6. The quality of many of these democracies remains deeply flawed FULL DEMOCRACY FLAWED DEMOCRACY 15.0% 11.3% 31.7% 37.1% 25 53 Moreover, across much of the developing world, these democracies are democratic in form but not necessarily in substance. They have institutions that are often hollow, weak and incffective; and their ability to perform remains mixed. These incipient democracies, which have been variously described as 'illiberal', 'delegative', or, more generally, 'hybrid' regimes or 'anocracies', constitute ambiguous systems that combine rhetorical acceptance of liberal democracy, the existence of some formal democratic institutions and respect for a limited sphere of civil and political liberties with essentially illiberal or even authoritarian traits. HYBRID REGIMES AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES 22.2% 14.0% 31.1% 37.6% 36 53 Sources: Economist Intelligence Unit (2011) Democracy Index 2011: Democracy Under Stress London: Economist Intelligence Unit; Rocha Menocal, Alina and Fritz, Verena with Rakner. L democracy in developing countriee es and the dre s of deepening and sustaining Tar International Affairs 15(1]:29-40. , Lise (2000 /Hybrid regimes South Atrican % of countries No. of countries % of world population ALTERNATION OF POWER IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA SINCE 2000 Alternations of power remain remarkably limited in Sub-Saharan Africa 14/51 While multi-party democracy has become the norm across sub- Saharan Africa, the alternation of power between parties remains rare, which speaks of the considerable advantages (both legal and extra-legal) that incumbents hold. Since 2000, only fourteen of 51 states have seen power transferred between political parties (Benin 2006, Cabo Verde 2011, Comoros 2006, Ghana 2008, Liberia 2005, Malawi 2012, Mali 2002, Mauritania 2007, Mauritius 2000 and 2005, Sao Tome and Principe 2001, Senegal 2012, Sierra Leone 2007, Zambia 2011). 37/51 Source: Atwood, Richard (20121 How the EU can Department, Directorate-General for External Policiee, European Parliament TOP 25 WEALTHIEST COUNTRIES ARE ALSO DEMOCRACIES The wealthiest countries tend to be democracies US$6,055 / CAPITA = STABLE DEMOCRACY The positive correlation between (high levels of) wealth and (established) democracy, first captured by Martin Lipset in a famous essay in 1959, is one of the strongest and most enduring relationships in the social sciences. Today, outside the petro-states, the top 25 richest countries in the world (as ranked by the World Bank) are also fully established democracies. In fact, a democratic regime has never fallen after a certain income level is reached (USS6,055 per capita in PENN World Table dollars) - which was Argentina when it fell to bureaucratic authoritarianism in 1963. But correlation does not mean causation, and the debate about whether development leads to democracy or vice versa is ongoing, IN Sources: Przeworski, Adam, Alvarez, Michael E., Cheibub, Jose Antonio, and Limongi, Fernando (2000) Democracy and Develcement Poktical Insotutions and Wal-Being in the World, 1950-1990 Cambridge Cambridge University Press; The World Bank. (2011) World Bank Devalopment Indicators 2011, Rocha Menocal, Alina (2012) Analysing the relationship between democracy and development, Commonweawh Good Governance 2UT2 devoioemant ant ouhln admiistration London: Nexus Strategic Partnerships for the Commonweath Secretsrist. WOMEN IN PARLIAMENT JAN 1997 APRIL 2013 The total number of women elected to parliament has almost doubled since 1997 As of April 2013, the top 10 countries in descending order in terms of the percentage of women in the lower or single House are: Rwanda, Andorra, Cuba, Sweden, Seychelles, Senegal, Finland, South Africa, Nicaragua, and Iceland. Notably, some of the oldest and most established democracies in the world outside of Scandinavia have considerably fewer women in parliament than more emerging democratic systems. The United Kingdom ranks 58th in the world, with 22.5% of members of the House of Commons being women, while the United States comes in 78th place, with 17.8% women in the House of Representatives. Souroe Inter-Parliamentary Union (2013) Woman in National Partamants 11.7% 20.8% 10 US ELECTIONS 2012 Expensive elections are not necessarily better The cost of the 2012 elections in the United States (including public and private funding) came to USDS 6,000,000,000 – which is roughly the equivalent of the entire annual GDP of some countries, including Kosovo, Rwanda, Niger, Malawi and the Kyrgyz Republic. NIGER GDP That makes UK election spending look microscopic by comparison. A total of £31m (S49m) was spent by all parties in the last general election in the UK in 2010 - making US spending 120 times as much, and 23 times as much per person. US$ 6BN The costs of the 2007 elections in Kenya were also exorbitant - coming to USS13,74 per registered voter (or USS 29 per cast ballot). The elections in Ghana in 2008, by comparison, came to USS0.70. Yer, expensive as they were, elections in Kenya proved unable to channel conflict peacefully and unleashed a terrible wave of violence, while those in Ghana transpired without major incident. UK ELECTIONS 2010 Sources: Cordellia Hebblethwaite (2012) US Election: How can it cost 5E bn7 BBC Nows Magazine Wsshington DC (2 August), Dialogue Africa Foundation (2000, revised edifion) Kriegler and Waki Reports on 2007 Elections -Summarised version Nairobi: Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung US$ 49M 20 © Overseas Development Institute, 2013. The views presented in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of ODI or our partners. Overseas Development Institute Author: Alina Rocha Menocal, ODI Research Fellow Research Consultant: Pearl Samandari Massoudi 203 Blackfriars road London SE1 8NJ | UK Tel: +44 (0)20 7922 0300 | Fax: +44 (0)20 7922 0399 Design: Steven Dickie,

Ten things to know about elections and democracies

shared by odi-development on Aug 07
Recent events in Egypt remind us that the road from ballot box to stable democracy is never straightforward. This infographic cuts through the complexity, presenting ten key facts.


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