Electoral Commissions & Democratization in Africa: Everyday Production of Democratic Legitimacy



Nicholas Kerr
Assistant Professor  
Political Science Department
University of Florida

Why do some countries hold elections that meet global democratic standards, while other countries do not? In a talk based on his book Electoral Commissions and Democratization in Africa, Nicholas Kerr delves into this question. His core argument is that electoral commissions provide valuable information that helps politicians and citizens resolve uncertainties about electoral fraud and administrative irregularities. By serving an informational role, electoral commissions influence how citizens and elites think about and behave during elections; these attitudes and behaviors, in turn, influence whether elections meet democratic standards (i.e. election quality) and whether political elites and citizens regard election processes as acceptable (i.e. election legitimacy). Bringing together evidence from public opinion surveys, elite surveys, field research and cross-national databases, Kerr presents an unusually rich empirical exploration of the dynamics of elections and democracy in Africa since the 1990s with a focused case study of Nigeria.