Adjusting Election Expectations

Mitchell, Lincoln A.

Elections remain both the most visible and controversial measure of democratization and democracy promotion in much of the world. During the Bush administration it became necessary for academics and other experts to again remind policy makers that elections alone did not mean democracy and that, in fact, elections sometimes did little to ameliorate existing problems and tensions in post-conflict or democratizing countries. This was part of the backlash against democracy assistance which was sparked by Bush's often reductively simple approach to the issue. Because of this backlash it became necessary to defend elections on the somewhat obvious grounds that while they may not be sufficient to make a country a democracy, it is pretty clear that a country that does not have free and fair elections cannot be a democracy.


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Academic Units
Harriman Institute
Published Here
September 29, 2011