Electoral administration

Authored by: Mamoudou Gazibo

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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While elections were monolithic and scarce in Africa before 1990, they have since become pluralistic and a routine at the national and even local level almost everywhere on the continent. To hold these increasingly complex and conflictual operations, virtually all sub-Saharan African countries have abandoned the traditional mode of election administration under the supervision of the Interior Ministry. The institutionalization of an organically separate body conducting the electoral process is now the norm and became one of African democratization process’s main institutional innovations. However, electoral commissions are not all alike and feature important institutional variations. In this chapter, I explore the origins and diffusion of this institution. I then propose a typology of Africa’s electoral management commissions, as well as a tentative explanation of their varying impact on democratization. The chapter shows that electoral commissions, while important, are one among many variables that affect elections and democratization.

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