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IAD Spring Symposium - Elections and Governance: Democratic Backsliding in Africa? April 27-28, 2018, Cornell University

counting ballots


April 27-28, 2018


Program Schedule

Elections Poster


In recent years, the democratic gains of the Third Wave of democratization have come under challenge in many countries around the world, and accusations of and evidence for democratic backsliding has increased.  The potential decline of democracy is particularly troubling for the Africa region, given the gains made in terms of political and civil rights in the decade after early 1990s and given the enormous governance challenges in the region.


The symposium will focus on improving our understanding of the causes, processes and implications of democratic decline in Africa.  Decline is defined as the adoption of legal restrictions on key civil and political rights, including freedoms of association and speech, as well as the rights and freedoms extended to minorities, gender equality, reproduction, sexual orientation and gender identity; the integrity of multi-party elections, and the extent to which it is undermined by such practices as gerrymandering, ballot stuffing, vote buying and violence; abrogation of the rule of law, and of the independence of the courts; executive-legislative relations and the weakening of mechanisms of horizontal accountability; and the social dynamics that both cause decline and result from it, such as the rise of political corruption, inequality and social unrest.


We are interested in paper proposals that analyze specific national cases of democratic decline; or that take on a comparative focus to explain variations in the quality of democracy across the African continent.  We are equally interested in studies of the international context of the current decline, including the role of the international community and international factors such as the global and regional economies, the war on terror and migratory flows. Finally, we are particularly interested in contributions that focus on the implication of the current patterns of decline for empirical theories democracy, democratization, and democratic consolidation.