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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Electoral reform in Southern Africa: voter turnout, electoral rules and infrastructure
Author:Kersting, NorbertISNI
Periodical:Journal of African Elections
Geographic term:Southern Africa
Subjects:electoral systems
Abstract:Elections are the most important element of democracies and, with referenda, the only way to organize mass participation and to promote government accountability. Low voter turnout can be seen as an indicator of low legitimacy and limited political stability. The African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) champion the idea of transparency and the integrity of the electoral process as well as greater participation and electoral turnout. An analysis of the voting-age population of southern Africa reveals that voter turnout is declining alarmingly. Do electoral rules and electoral infrastructure matter? This paper analyses election instruments using qualitative criteria from democratic theory. Are electoral systems, quotas for women and the conjunction of elections influencing voter turnout? Is a reform of voting infrastructure necessary? Southern African countries diverge widely in their electoral rules and infrastructure, which allows for cross-national learning. A number of remedies, including the necessity for automatic voter registration, are recommended. Bibliogr., note, sum. [Journal abstract]