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Of Democracy, and Elections—in Reverse. On the Exorbitant (Increase in the) Cost of Elections in Africa. SSRN Electronic Journal

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Abstract

Democracy is undergoing a stress test across the world. There is a reversal of a positive trend, especially significant since the end of the Cold War, of an expansion of democracy and the adoption in an increasing number of countries. Freedom House puts the trend reversal in 2005. The reversal is arguably most clearly visible in Africa. Elections are essential to the functioning of democracy, for good governance and, through the latter, for economic development and people's material wellbeing. Lindberg found that elections improve democracy "on the way up"-but Freedom House has now reported that the slide in the indicators for elections has been twice the rate of the overall Freedom House country scores during the 2016-2018 period. We show that elections, in Sub-Saharan Africa, have become exceptionally expensive (from 2000 an amount of almost USD 125 billion may have been spent in Sub-Saharan Africa alone), while the enhanced technology content-while pushing up election administration cost-has not prevented a significant slide in trust in election integrity. The disenfranchisement and impoverishment that may result from the collapse of democratic systems in the developing world may affect the pursuance of a legal identity for all by 2030 (sustainable development target 16.9, under goal 16: "Peace, justice and strong institutions" which includes target 16.7: "Ensure responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all levels"). Achieving target 16.9 may become confined to an exercise towards achieving utilitarian, material ends (e.g. verification of identity to avail of certain material benefits) rather than the achievement of an immaterial, higher purpose-the recognition of every person's dignity and equality before the law, and the right to choose one's leaders.
Of Democracy and Elections in Africa—In Reverse
Jaap van der Straaten ξ
1920 March 2019
Abstract
Democracy is undergoing a stress test across the world. There is a
reversal of what was a positive trend, especially significant since the
end of the Cold War, a reversal of an expansion of democracy and its
adoption in an increasing number of countries. Freedom House puts the
year of trend reversal as 2005. The reversal is arguably most clearly
visible in Africa. Elections are essential to the functioning of
democracy, for good governance and, through the latter, for
economic development and people’s material wellbeing. Lindberg
found that elections improve democracy on the way up’—but
Freedom House has now reported that the slide in the indicators for
elections has been twice the rate of slide in the overall Freedom House
country scores during the 20162018 period. We show that elections, in
Sub-Saharan Africa, have become exceptionally expensive (from 2000
an amount of almost USD 50 billion may have been spent in Sub-
Saharan Africa alone), while enhanced technology contentthat has
pushed up election administration costhas not prevented a
significant slide of trust in election integrity. The disenfranchisement and
impoverishment that may result from the collapse of democratic
systems in the developing world may throw a spanner in the wheels of
the pursuance of a legal identity for all by 2030 (sustainable
development target 16.9, under goal 16: Peace, justice and strong
institutions’—which also includes target 16.7: ‘Ensure responsive,
inclusive, participatory and representative decision-making at all
levels). Achieving target 16.9 may, in stead, become confined to an
exercise towards achieving utilitarian, material ends (e.g. verification of
identity to avail of certain material benefits) rather than the
achievement of an immaterial, higher purposethe recognition of
every person’s dignity and equality before the law, and the right to
choose one’s leaders.
__________
ξ This note was written for the 3rd Colloquium of the Bhalisa identity expert group, held at Jesus College of the University of
Cambridge 19-20 March 2019. The author is Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Registration Centre for Development, CRC4D,
the Netherlands.
2
Introduction
My interest in elections flows from my belief that free and fair elections,
election integrity, and elections being held on a regular basis in the first
place, are an important hallmark of democracy at work. The
acknowledged right to vote is central to that. Evidence of an officially
recognized, legal identity, used at the ballot box (and/or for voter
registration), could well be seen (as I do!) as the most fundamental
purpose for which official (evidence of) identity can be used.
1
Developments in democracy and elections in (Sub-Saharan) Africa
Only a few years ago, in 2015, most election observers would still have
believed in a ‘democracy dividend’, arising from the end of the Cold
War, that kept on giving. But, according to a Freedom House
measurement, a regression of democracy may have set in already in
2005, after an ongoing improvement from 1985 through 2005. This
deterioration also, I believe, has led to a reduction in transparency of
election administration cost (EAC). I.e., the good days for collecting
EAC data may be behind us, as one of the manifestations of a malaise
in democracy as well as elections.
In 2014 still, Giovanni Carbone published “Elections and leadership
changes: How do political leaders take (and leave) power in Africa?”.
2
His study of elections in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) spans the period 1960
through 2012. One of the figures in the study that encapsulates some of
the quantitative and qualitative aspects is reproduced below.
In the thirty years until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 (1960—1989) only
26 elections were held according to Carbone’s study (0.87 on average
per year) in SSA; in the 23 years from 1990 through 2003 no less than 169
3
elections were organized in SSA (7.35/year). At the Civil Registration
Centre for Development (CRC4D) we used Carbone’s research in a
study, commissioned by the UNICEF regional offices for SSA, of the
relationship between civil registration and good governance.
3
ELECTIONS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA, 1990-2012 VERSUS 1960—1989
Source: Carbone, Giovanni (2014)
Of course, while improvement has been ubiquitous all across Africa, no
election illustrates the massive change in the Sub-Saharan election
space as much as South Africa’s 1994 election that brought Nelson
Mandela to power—for the African political giant to give it back after
the end of his only term in 1999.
4
Liberia has had a special status among African countries because of its
early foundation and independence (already in 1821). The country
held no less than 47 presidential elections, 18 referenda and one
legislature election before 1990. Ghana held an election in 1956 before
it become independent from Britain a year later, and blazed a trail that
way.
An earlier study done in 2006 by Staffan Lindberg comprised another
large set of 232 elections conducted from before 1989 (26 elections)
through 2003 in forty-four countries in Africa. Lindberg concluded that
the very act of holding elections improved the quality of democracy:
4
The analysis [..] indicates that elections in Africa have in fact had a
causal impact, improving the quality [of democracy—JvdS] there. The
process of holding an uninterrupted series of ‘de jure’ participatory,
competitive, and legitimate elections not only enhances the
democratic quality of the electoral regime but also has positive effects
on the spread and deepening of civil liberties in the society. In the final
analysis, the causal effect of elections in this regard is attested to while
controlling for other well-known factors in a multiple regression
analysis.”
Elections, good governance and economic development
I.e., elections and election integrity do matter for the quality of
democracy. They also are part and parcel of ‘good governance’ and
enhance government effectiveness. One of the outstanding students
of the field of good governance is Daniel Kauffman, who worked with
Aart Kraay and Massimo Mastruzzi at the World Bank Institute (WBI) on
the Worldwide Governance Indicators project. Kaufmann, in a paper
he wrote for WBI in 2003, shared the following:
5
5
“The effects of improved governance on income in the long run are
found to be very large with an estimated 400% improvement in per
capita income [italics JvdS] associated with an improvement in
government by one standard deviation, and similar improvements in
reducing child mortality and illiteracy. To illustrate: an improvement in
the rule of law by one standard deviation in Ukraine to those “middling
levels” prevailing in South Africa would lead to a four-fold increase in
income in the long run.”
Kaufman’s definition of governance is: “Governance is the set
traditions and formal and informal institutions that determine how
authority is exercised in a particular country for the common good,
thus encompassing: (1) the process of selecting, monitoring, and
replacing governments; (2) the capacity to formulate and implement
sound policies and deliver public services; and (3) the respect of
citizens and the state for the institutions that govern economic and
social interactions among them.” I.e., elections and election integrity
are a factor in the measurement of governance quality. Government
effectiveness is another factor, a second element. The research done
in this WBI project found a causal, positive relationship between the
quality of governance, and government effectiveness more narrowly,
on the one hand, and income on the other. The relationship between
the quality of democracy (as measured by Freedom House) and
government effectiveness is shown in the next figure.
Singapore is a remarkable outlier. Several Nordic countries and The
Netherlands scored well (to the right, upper part), while several poor
countries in Eurasia and Africa score in the lowest range of government
effectiveness and democracy (left, lower part).
6
Source: Harvard (2009)
The Freedom House report (which is—still—to a large part paid for by
USAID) for 2019 states the following about the decline in democracy it
has measured:
“The truth is that democracy needs defending, and as traditional
champions like the United States stumble, core democratic norms
meant to ensure peace, prosperity, and freedom for all people are
under serious threat around the world. For example, elections are
being hollowed out as autocracies find ways to control their results
while sustaining a veneer of competitive balloting. Polls in which the
outcome is shaped by coercion, fraud, gerrymandering and other
manipulation are increasingly common. Freedom House’s indicators for
elections have declined at twice the rate of overall score totals
globally during the last three years [italics JvdS].”
7
Freedom House also warns for the threat of digital authoritarianism:
The offensive against freedom of expression is being supercharged by
a new, more effective form of digital authoritarianism. As documented
in Freedom House’s most recent Freedom on the Net report, China is
now exporting its model of comprehensive internet censorship and
surveillance around the world, offering trainings, seminars, and study
trips as well as advanced equipment that takes advantage of artificial
intelligence and facial recognition technologies. As the internet takes
on the role of a virtual public sphere, and as the cost of sophisticated
surveillance declines, Beijing’s desire and capacity to spread
totalitarian models of digitally enabled social control pose a major risk
to democracy worldwide.”
The deterioration in democracy over the 20052018 period has, in
Africa, occurred all across Freedom House’s categories as shown in the
figure below.
Source: Freedom House (2019)
8
This figure shows that developments in the electoral process in SSA
were better only than in Eurasia (14 countries including Russia, and
many under Russia’s influence).
6
‘Political pluralism and participation’
have retreated most in SSA, as is the case for ‘the rule of law’. The
‘functioning of government’, ‘freedom of expression and belief’ and
‘associational and organizational rights’ have equally fared better in
SSA only in comparison with the two Freedom House regions Eurasia
and the Middle East and North Africa.
Election administration cost
In most high-income countries with a relatively long civil registration
history election administration cost can be kept low by using data from
the civil- or population register(s) that tend to be virtually complete, up-
to-date, and contain most or all that is important to determine voting
eligibility (age, nationality). But incompleteness of civil registration in
lower income countries is most worrisome in SSA. Only South Africa
stands out as a country that is an exception, which for SSA has been
one of stagnation, or glacial improvement at best, with only very few
exceptions, such as South Africa, and another rare example: Sierra
Leone.
Identity management ‘orthodoxy’ holds that a country first achieves
sustained universal birth- and death registration, then establishes a
population register
7
and maintains it in an up-to-date state in a
continuous way. The (administrative) population register, organized by
where people live, becomes a resource for identification purposes,
and for a national ID system, while providing the lowest-cost solution for
the generation of the voter list. South Africa followed this ‘orthodox’
pathway.
8
Perhaps it is all due to the serendipity of Mandela in 1994
9
being elected to the highest office before 9/11 in 2001. which triggered
a frenzy of unorthodox solutions applied in Africa—especially for the
adoption of national ID systems as a ‘solution’ to national security
which became a prime priority post–9/11 for governments across the
world.7 But the evidence that national IDs are an effective deterrent of
terrorism is extremely weak. However, the rise of national ID systems in
this unorthodox fashion has had a decelerating impact on civil
registration development. When civil registration systems do not fully
cover the population eligible to vote they cannot serve as a resource
to derive the voter list from. That then forces the use of alternative, and
much more expensive, ways of putting the electoral list together.
For elections, from 1989, many SSA countries did not have the civil
registration coverage to derive a voter list from. The unorthodoxy that I
mentioned, and the weak civil registration foundations to support
elections, has led in SSA to extraordinary levels of EAC, as well as to an
extraordinary increase in EAC over time—in comparison to other parts
of the world, including to other high-cost, developed parts of the
world.
Election administration cost dataset
The EAC collected for over 160 elections held across the world since
1990 are analyzed here for their cost per capita (as an indicator for the
burden for the population at large), per elector (as an indicator for the
cost effectiveness of election administration—an ‘elector’ is a
registered voter) and per voter. It is important to note that the “cost of
doing (election) business” in high income countries would be expected
to be higher, ceteris paribus, than in low-income countries, especially
when ‘non-tradables’ (such as most of the human resource needs for
the preparation and conduct of elections) would make up a large part
10
of the election administration cost. That was the case when elections
were held in a low-tech way. But also, technology has found its way
into elections, especially in Africa, and it will have to have been the
main reason why the EAC increase in SSA has been fuelled—for want
of another plausible reason. The elections shown in the table below do
not include fifteen elections that we have labelled as ‘special’. Those
special elections are the ones that required special, and expensive,
security measures. In Lindberg’s parlance special elections are called
‘foundational’.
The numbers in the table above show that the disparity between SSA’s
election administration cost (per elector) and EAC in the rest of the
world—already significant before 2000—further widened from a ratio of
2.4 times ($4.10 versus $1.70 before 2000) to a ratio of almost 3.5 times
($10.20 versus $2.90).
11
The cost difference per capita between SSA and countries in Europe,
North America and Australasia (ENAA) is particularly excessive, when
we consider that disposable income in SSA (our data set does not
include elections in the five countries of North Africa, hence Africa and
SSA are used interchangeably) is much lower than in ENAA. Cost per
capita in ENAA and Africa after 2000 is almost equal (USD 4.00 versus
USD 4.20). That it does not show the same disparity as found for costs
per elector is because the voting age population in ENAA is nearly as
large as the total population (78%; 77% for the USA in 2012). IN SSA the
voting age population accounts for only 49% of the total population.
I.e., in SSA, families with young minors carry a heavier burden for the
adults to be allowed to vote than is the case in ENAA. That does not
take into account that, for example, the average American citizen
with a yearly income of USD 58,000 (2017, rounded) can well afford the
EAC per capita of USD 4.00, even if the typical household has more
voting age members than would be the case in SSA where the
average income per person is only USD 1,500, fewer members in the
household have voting age, and the EAC per capita is virtually the
same at USD 4.20. Corrected for income the average person in Africa
pays about forty times as much for an election as the average person
does in the United States (for Europe the difference would be a little
less large).
In contrast, election cost in South Asia (especially in Bangladesh, India,
and Pakistan) was lowest in the world (only USD 0.90 per elector)
before 2000, and the increase in EAC from before 2000 to post-2000 (to
USD 1.50 per elector) was the lowest in South Asia as well. India (and
this applies to the two other countries too) has the advantage of
economies of scale. India’s per capita income was USD 1,800 in 2017—
i.e., higher than in SSA, but that has been only so in 2016 and 2017. Until
2015 per capita income was virtually the same in SSA as it was in India.
12
Still, a ratio of four-and-a-half times the cost in Africa as compared to
Asia prior to 2000 became almost seven times the cost in Africa after
2000.
The Indian Aadhaar system has been often lauded for its low enrolment
cost, often cited as about USD 1.00 per person or thereabout. But a
comparison of election administration cost between India and SSA
should have given pause to those who have recommended an
Aadhaar-like system for Africa (among whom is one of Aadhaar’s
pioneers, Nandan Nilekani).
9
The cost of doing (election) business in
Africa is NOT the same as in India. Doing ‘election business’ actually
costs 7-8 times as much in Africa as it costs in India, and one should
expect national ID systems to, likewise, be much more expensive in
Africa than Aadhaar has been.
There is no reason to think that the increase in EAC in Africa has
reached a ceiling. Election technology offered, and the expert support
delivered as part of the deal, is becoming more sophisticated and
more expensive still. As the examples of the recent elections in Ghana,
Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo have shown, the use of
election technology does not necessarily enhance election integrity or
trust in elections. In Ghana (general elections 2012) suspect machine
breakdowns were found (correlated with the absence of election
observers).
10
In Kenya in 2018 the opposition went to court alleging that
(expensive!) election technology enabled election fraud.
11
In the
Democratic Republic of Congo the government of South Korea
distanced itself from the South Korean vendor that sold voting
machines to the DRC government, which apparently were either
completely ignored or used to rig an election the country should have
had two years earlier, as shown in this diagram published in the
Financial Times:
12
13
The general point—of the ‘election technology fallacy’—is made in an
article written by Nic Cheeseman et al.
13
Election administration cost in Africa (and SSA), as shown in the table
above, may still have remained a somewhat abstract quantity for the
reader. Perhaps the following numbers help provide more perspective.
Our dataset for 97 elections, held from 2000, accounts for a total
election administration global spend of USD 18.4 billion, of which 42
elections held in SSA accounted for a spend of USD 7.0 billion.
The number of elections in SSA has been way larger than our SSA
sample of 42, costing a total of USD 7.0 billion, for which we have found
cost data. According to IDEA data, about 300 elections have been
held in SSA from 2000 through 2018. These elections may have had a
total cost of approximately USD 50 billion, equivalent to a spend of USD
2.6 billion annually. If only SSA had been able to limit its election
14
administration cost rise to the level of the (relatively moderate)
increase in cost in Asia pre- to post-2000, SSA would have saved as
much as USD 16.5 billion in election administration cost over the 2000––
2018 period (spending USD 33.5 billion rather than USD 50 billion).
The World Bank’s annual report for 2019 shows that notwithstanding this
huge outlay for the conduct of African elections, which most likely can
be contributed to a large extent to the use of election technology,
there has been a noticeable decline in trust in elections (in all electoral
democracies). The decline fairly well tracks the Freedom House decline
in the quality of democracy from 2005 through 2018:
Source: World Bank (2018)
15
Digital ID versus Good Governance and Economic Benefits
The McKinsey study earlier mentioned in a footnote (cf. note 5) has
estimated just marginal benefits in higher GDP by 2030 for low-income
countries (6% of GDP) if they would adopt digital ID in the right way.
The problem is that there are no examples of new digital ID systems
that have been successfully introduced “in the right way”—with the
probable exceptions of new ID systems introduced in such countries as
Estonia, Malaysia, Thailand and Uruguay that have one thing in
common: they had complete civil registration systems in place.
The election administration cost misery in SSA shows how erroneous it is
to look just at benefits only (especially when they are hardly statistically
significant as in the McKinsey study) while ignoring the internal and
external costs. ‘Digital ID’ greatly enhances the risk of wholesale
breaches of the data of many individuals, a risk that does not apply to
analogue ID. A 2018 study by Rand found that cyber crime has a direct
gross domestic product cost of USD 275 billion to USD 6.6 trillion globally
and total GDP costs (direct plus systemic) of USD 799 billion to USD 22.5
trillion (between 1.1 and 32.4 percent of global GDP).
A part of these cybercrime costs is associated with the vulnerability
and insecurity of personal identity information. Rather than making a
bet on digital ID it would be a much better use of resources to address
the organizational shortcomings in civil registration, which would
reduce the cost and enhance the quality of elections, and of
democracy more broadly, with favorable feedback loops towards
effective governance. The rewards of such a policy—as Daniel
Kaufmann and the World Bank Institute studies showed—would be
hundreds of percent of GDP, rather than a few percent.
16
Source: Rand (2018), p. ix.
There is a common naiveté about and denial of the costs of data
vulnerability and how it could, realistically, be constrained. One of the
main cyber-security experts, Bruce Schneier, titled the fourth chapter in
his book Click Here to Kill Everybody. Security and Survival in a Hyper-
connected World: Everyone Favors Insecurity’. After having discussed
technology as a source of insecurity in previous chapters, he opens the
fourth chapter as follows:
“Flaws in the technology are not the only reason we have such an
insecure Internet. Another important reason, maybe even the main
reason, is that Internet’s most powerful architects—governments and
corporations—have manipulated the network to make it serve their
interests.” [Bold face JvdS]
14
If SSA governments would attempt to emulate election administration
practice in Europe, North America and Australasia, and in South Africa
(!), and shape their identity management such that national ID systems
17
(that are also, in SSA, extraordinarily expensive and failure-prone) and
elections would benefit from universal coverage of civil registration, as
is the case in South Africa for example, then billions of dollars, going
forward, can be saved and spent on other pressing needs such as
economic development and poverty eradication, public health and
education. Then civil registration will be the indispensable building
block of the ‘normal functioning of society’
15
as the UN once termed it,
and for governance that will bring the outsize effects on income (400%
of more of GDP as estimated by Daniel Kaufmann). Unfortunately, an
ecosystem of the ID- and biometrics industry, advisory- and funding
organizations has emerged that is selling ‘solution’–shortcuts to
countries (especially technological ‘solutions), pretending that there is
‘another way’ to solve the complex problem of reaching sustained
complete coverage of a population with identity administration
systems. Genuine relevant expertise is a rare commodity in this echo-
chamber promising a digital Valhalla.
Conclusion
The present time is perilous for elections, democracy and the western
political and economic order. The Foreign Policy newspaper goes as
far as stating that ‘Trump and May are discrediting democracy’.
16
In
parallel, regulation is not keeping up with technological developments.
We have entered ‘the age of surveillance capitalism’ (which makes
frivolous attitudes towards ‘digital ID’ so galling).
17
But, according to this
excellent article by Thomas Edsall (“The Rotten Equilibrium of
Republican Politics”), Republican (and Tory-) politics may not be
sustainable.
18
And, the midterm elections in the US in 2018 were as well
a welcome show of the tenacity of democratic values and the rise of
women in politics. Perhaps democracy can still be saved from
extinction before it is too late.
18
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20
Notes
1
Although in a battle for first place, passing on one’s citizenship to offspring is equally important! That will require adequate
evidence of citizenship of parents in most cases, unless children are born in a country with
ius solis
(and are not finding
their location of birth second-guessed as some of them are in the United States of America at present).
2
Carbone, Giovanni (2012). URL as of 8 February 2019.
3
Cf. Van der Straaten, Jaap (2014). We compared Carbone’s data with IDEA election data. IDEA gives a total of 59
presidential and parliamentary elections prior to 1990 in Sub-Saharan Africa, while it excludes elections in Eritrea, Liberia,
Somalia, Somaliland (and Puntland) and Swaziland, while from 1990 through 2018 a total of 430 presidential and
parliamentary elections.
4
Cf. Lindberg, Staffan F. (2006).
5
Cf. Kaufmann, Daniel (2003), p. 15. Recently the McKinsey Global Institute issued a summary report of study done for the
Department for International Development of the United Kingdom, which asserts that, when carefully designed, digital ID can
add 6% growth to an emerging economy's GDP in 2030 and 3% to an advanced economy's GDP. In comparison this is
rather tiny compared to a 400% increase in per capita income. McKinsey’s study also does not address the many
downsides and costs of digital ID. Cf. McKinsey Global Institute (2019).
6
The fourteen countries in the Freedom House Eurasia region are Abkhazia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Chechnya,
Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia, South Ossetia, Tajikistan, Transnistria, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and
Uzbekistan.
7
The United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD) has made a distinction between ‘administrative population registers’ and
‘statistical population registers’, while seeing its own role and responsibility as confined to the latter. It is against this
background that the UNSD definition of a population register should be viewedas the definition of statistical population
registers. The UNSD definition is: “A population register is an individualized data system, that is, a mechanism of continuous
recording, and/or of coordinated linkage, of selected information pertaining to each member of the resident population of a
country in such a way to provide the possibility of determining up-to-date information concerning the size and
characteristics of that population at selected time intervals.” Administrative population registers could be defined in the
same way, with the last part becoming: “in such a way to provide the records of individualized data to serve for the issuance,
replacement and revocation of identification cards, as well as for verification of the authenticity of identity data of members
of the resident population. It is a convention to register ‘vital events’ (birth, death, etc.) in a registration office where the
vital event occurred, and civil registers therefore are organized that way. In contrast, population registers are typically
organized by the place where people live, i.e., by address and area.
8
Cf. Van der Straaten, Jacob (2015) where the case of South Africa is set out.
9
Cf. Nilekani, Nandan (2018). (“Nowhere are the challenges more urgent and the opportunities most palpable than in
Africa, where half a billion people have no form of identification, and two-thirds of children are not registered at birth. India’s
experience has proven this gap can be addressed much before 2030, and can produce economic dividends, while also
empowering people to take control of their data.)
10
Cf. Golden, Miriam, Eric Kramon and George Ofosu (2014)
11
Cf. https://www.ft.com/content/2b97f6e6-189d-11e9-b93e-f4351a53f1c3
12
Cf. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kenya-election-court-idUSKCN1B2192
13
Cf. Cheeseman, Nic, Gabriella Lynch and Justin Willis. I find the subtitle of the article—'the unintended consequences of
election technology’—too charitable though!
14
Cf. Schneier, Bruce (2018), p. 56.
15
Cf. United Nations (1998), pp. 97 ff.
16
Cf. Nossel, Suzanne (2019)
17
Cf. the book by Harvard’s Shoshana Zuboff (2019). For a review see: http://tinyurl.com/y9t6u6hw.
18
Cf. Edsall, Thomas B. (2019)
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Digital technologies are increasingly used in elections around the world. Where the resources and capacity of the state are limited, some have argued that such technologies make it possible to rapidly “leapfrog” to cleaner and more credible elections. This article argues that the growing use of these technologies has been driven by the fetishization of technology rather than by rigorous assessment of their effectiveness; that they may create significant opportunities for corruption that (among other things) vitiate their potential impact; and that they carry significant opportunity costs. Indeed, precisely because new technology tends to deflect attention away from more “traditional” strategies, the failure of digital checks and balances often renders an electoral process even more vulnerable to rigging than it was before. These observations are not intended as a manifesto against the digitization of elections; apart from anything else, we argue that the drivers of the adoption of these new methods are too powerful to resist. But the analysis draws attention to the importance of more careful assessments of the problems, as well as the benefits, of such technologies – and to the need for more careful planning in their deployment.
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This volume studies elections as a core institution of liberal democracy in the context of newly democratizing countries. Political scientist Staffan I. Lindberg gathers data from every nationally contested election in Africa from 1989 to 2003, covering 232 elections in 44 countries. He argues that democratizing nations learn to become democratic through repeated democratic behavior, even if their elections are often flawed. Refuting a number of established hypotheses, Lindberg finds no general negative trend in either the frequency or the quality of African elections. Rather, elections in Africa, based on his findings, are more than just the goal of a transition toward democracy or merely a formal procedure. The inception of multiparty elections usually initiates liberalization, and repeated electoral activities create incentives for political actors, fostering the expansion and deepening of democratic values. In addition to improving the democratic qualities of political regimes, a sequence of elections tends to expand and solidify de facto civil liberties in society. Drawing on a wealth of data, Lindberg makes the case that repetitive elections are an important causal factor in the development of democracy. He thus extends Rustow's (1970) theory that democratic behavior produces democratic values. © 2006 The Johns Hopkins University Press. All rights reserved.
Article
“Brought back from imprisonment. ” That is the longer, Latin-rooted dictionary definition of redux, 2 while another refers to the return from exile. More succinctly, the English definition refers to “brought back ” and cites “revived ” as its synonym. 3 Indeed, core aspects of governance were taboo for international financial institutions until not long ago. By the mid 1990s, official documents would still largely avoid spelling out the word corruption, for instance. Thanks to a seachange at agencies such as the World Bank, as well as to the embracing of the challenge of governance by institutions such as the World Economic Forum, it is now possible to discuss openly the reality of governance worldwide, and apply such knowledge in concrete ways in countries intent in improving. Further, given the complexity of the topic, its multidisciplinary nature, and the tentative (and often subject to different interpretations) nature of the incipient lessons learnt, it is imperative to question and attempt to advance in this field by utilizing the power of empirical work—which often reveals evidence at odds with long and popularly held beliefs. Hence the title, “Governance Redux: The Empirical Challenge, ” and the attempt in this paper to cover various interrelated governance topics from an empirical
How Do Political Leaders Take (and Leave) Power in Africa?
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Edsall, Thomas B. (2019). The 'Rotten Equilibrium' of Republican Politics. The New York Times January 30, 2019. URL as of 8 February 2019: http://tinyurl.com/yxlbpr3a. Freedom House (2019). Freedom in the World. URL as of 8 February: http://tinyurl.com/y8gyvd8k.
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  • Freedom House
Freedom House (2019). Freedom in the World. URL as of 8 February: http://tinyurl.com/y8gyvd8k.
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  • Mckinsey Global Institute
McKinsey Global Institute (2019). Digital Identification. A Key to Inclusive Growth. Summary of Findings. URL as of 8 February 2019: https://tinyurl.com/ybcfbttm.
Trump and May are Discrediting Democracy
  • Suzanne Nossel
Nossel, Suzanne. "Trump and May are Discrediting Democracy". Foreign Policy January 24, 2019. URL as of 9 February 2019: http://tinyurl.com/y5yfsom2.