Elections Without Democracy
Today less than ever, elections do not allow to distinguish between democracy and authoritarianism. Not only have authoritarian regimes learnt how to play the election game: they also moved from the mere manipulation of the results to a broader process of confiscating political representation well ahead of election day.
Election monitoring has been up until today focusing on guaranteeing the fair functioning of polling stations. We contend that, to the contrary, elections are not just about the moment of voting, but a whole process which includes amendments to the law, partisan negotiations, alliances, coercion. It is this process that has to be accounted for in order to better grasp the actuality of political representation and the possibility for each citizen to be represented and to run themselves for office.
Such short-sightedness has proved all the more counter-effective when it came to post-conflict situations. States and supranational organizations alike, the international community has long been considering elections as a way not so much to reach for democracy but to build peace. This rush for elections as a solution to armed conflicts – as if elections were granted the magical power of creating political consensus – oftentimes produced the opposite results, by aggravating the crisis and obliterating alternative means and mediation techniques, such as those locally known and shared by the stakeholders.
By promoting a holistic approach of elections through field-based research and first-hand original data conducted by a team of experts, this project aims at documenting election practices in the post-2011 MENA societies, and proposing a new frame of analysis and action for elections in post-conflict situations in the MENA region.