Nigeria and Democratic Progress by Elections in Africa

Giovanni Carbone, Andrea Cassani


Elections do not always advance democratisation, yet they can. We outline a democratisation-by-elections model according to which the opportunities for political change opened up by each electoral round build on previous election-related democratic progress. We focus on Nigeria, interpret the recent executive turnover in light of previous elections, and set the country within the comparative context of Africa’s democratisation. Using a new Africa Leadership Change dataset, we use election-related events to examine the diverse routes that African regimes have taken since 1990. The analysis highlights two major syndromes: democratic stagnation and recession. In a sizeable group, however, the institutionalisation of democracy has been making gradual progress. While there is no predetermined way to advance democracy, the reiteration of elections can be instrumental in such advancement.

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