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The future of election observation in African countries 
Robert Macdonald (University of Edinburgh)
Koffi Sawyer (University of Birmingham)
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Politics and International Relations (x) Futures (y)
Philosophikum, S81
Friday 2 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

At a time when criticisms of election observers are mounting, this panel will address the future of international, regional, and citizen observation on the African continent.

Long Abstract:

Since the 1990s, election observers have often faced academic and popular criticism, generally relating to their methodologies, alleged biases, and a perception that they have failed to adequately condemn flawed electoral processes. Controversy surrounding recent observation missions, including those at the Kenyan elections in 2017 and the Malawian elections in 2019, have created additional criticism. Along with the shifting patterns of deployment that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic, this has led to renewed calls for the role of election observers on the African continent to be reassessed. This panel will, therefore, address ongoing debates about the future of election observation in African countries with a focus on international, regional, and citizen observers. It will ask whether election observation, as currently constituted, has an impact on election quality and/or meaningfully addresses citizens' visions for the future of democracy in their countries. It will also investigate the structural framework, actors, institutions, and interests that will shape election observation in the future. Of particular interest in this regard will be questions such as what can make election observation more effective?, who should be observing African elections?, how can technology be incorporated in election observation?, and what should be the main objectives methods of election observation missions going forward?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -