18 May 2014

South Africa: Analysis - Elections Everywhere, but What About Democracy?


The recent spate of just-completed or about to occur elections in Asia, Africa and Europe - as well those midterm elections in the US later this year, encourages J. BROOKS SPECTOR to contemplate the tangled relationships between voting and the legitimacy of governments.

South Africa's recent national election finally grabbed national attention - even stealing the headlines from the Oscar Pistorius trial, at least for a while. But beyond South Africa, there are also elections about to happen for the European Parliament, in Ukraine, the final round of the Afghan election comes up shortly, and then, a bit later in the year, their are midterm elections across the US as well. And then, of course, Iraq just had its parliamentary election a couple of weeks ago.

Most important of all, perhaps, was the Indian election in the world's most populous democracy. This election more than decimated the country's venerable Congress Party in the national parliament as Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party carried off a devastating victory. The Financial Times, in noting this victory, observed that "India's next prime minister Narendra Modi has said little about his plans to restart the country's stuttering economy following Friday's landslide victory in national elections....

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