Building on Somaliland's Successful Elections

Somaliland’s opposition scored a surprise win in long overdue parliamentary and local elections on 31 May 2021. Despite years of delays, the vote went smoothly and was a milestone on Somaliland’s road to democratisation. A 3 August vote for the speaker of parliament was similarly straightforward. The 31 May vote revealed both the strength of Somaliland’s democratic culture and the limits of efforts to include under-represented constituencies in high-level politics. Women are now entirely absent from parliament and certain sub-clans won fewer seats, partly because of dismal turnout in parts of the east. Somaliland’s leaders should redouble efforts to include under-represented communities in governing bodies and work to address disaffection in eastern regions through dialogue. The ruling party should steer clear of heavy-handed tactics that marred the pre-electoral period, while watchdog institutions and civil society should publicise any such actions that still occur.