Lessons from Electoral Management and Processes in West Africa

"This paper is based on case studies from six West African countries. It points out key historical and material forces that helped frame and shape the electoral management and processes of these countries. These are: the state as a site for zero-sum politics; the progressive violation of the principle of isolation of administration from politics; and the combination of political and legal influences that help foster a culture of impunity. In reviewing national debates over strengthening electoral management and processes against the background of political reforms aimed at the democratic management of diversity, the paper focuses on five main challenges. These are, respectively: the preferred model of electoral management bodies (EMBs); the cost of elections; electoral dispute adjudication; EMBs’ partnerships with state and non-state stakeholders; and presidential term limits. The paper also examines challenges confronting EMBs, including the increasing cost of elections, controversy over electoral dispute adjudication and institutionalising partnerships with stakeholders."