Ballots or Bullets: Elections and Conflict Management in Southern Africa

Elections form an important ingredient for democratic rule in all societies. However, on their own, elections do not amount to democracy nor are they sufficient to sustain democratic governance. The significance of elections though, is that they encourage popular participation in the political process, which is crucial for both stability and legitimacy of rule. This is more so in conflict-ridden and war-torn societies. The southern African experience demonstrates that the relative political stability enjoyed by the majority of states since the ending of the cold war and the demise of apartheid, has been nurtured and consolidated through elections, which have essentially replaced bullets with ballots as key instruments for the contestation for state power. The extent to which elections add value to the constructive management of conflicts depends critically on both the nature of the electoral system and the unequivocal commitment of the belligerent parties to peace, reconciliation and stability.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Conflict Management, election violence, Kofi Annan, proportional representation (PR), Single Member Plurality, Single-Member Majoritarian, UN secretary general
journal of african elections vol1 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa