Accepted paper:

The Influence of Electoral Adjudication on Competition in Madagascar and Senegal


Charlotte Heyl (GIGA - German Institute of Global and Area Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyses whether the Madagascan and Senegalese constitutional courts enhanced or impeded electoral competition in presidential elections and how the courts' interventions interplayed with other political and procedural factors shaping the level of competition such as opposition strength.

Paper long abstract:

Scholars of electoral integrity assume that independent electoral adjudication can enhance electoral integrity and consequently democracy. Constitutional courts in francophone Africa hold important powers in the electoral process but are rarely perceived as impartial referees in this endeavour. Yet, we have little systematic knowledge on how these courts intervene in elections and what kind of influence they render on democracy. This paper examines the interventions of the Madagascan and the Senegalese constitutional courts in presidential elections in the period between 1992 and 2012. It investigates how the courts influenced the level of electoral competition in these elections. The results show that both - the potential influence of the courts' decisions on electoral competition as well as the degree to which the courts' decisions mattered for the de facto level of competition - varied across elections. I argue that the influence of a constitutional court on electoral competition depends on the relevance of their interventions as well as on their interplay with other political and procedural factors shaping competition such as opposition strength, civil society activism or the impartiality of electoral management bodies. The paper draws from an original dataset of 106 election related constitutional court decisions coded by the author, secondary literature and interview data.

panel Law05
Courts, politics and African democracy