Choosing an Electoral System: Alternatives for the Post-War Democratic Republic of Congo

The civilized way of selecting individuals as representatives of the citizens of a country is through free, fair and genuine elections. However, the translation of the results of an election into seats depends considerably on a combination of provisions and procedures known as the electoral system. Thus, the choice of an electoral system has a direct effect on the electoral results and has serious political consequences for representation and political stability. In this paper I discuss types of electoral systems and their impacts on political representation and stability, and point out the most important elements that will affect the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) when they choose and engineer an electoral system for their country. The experiences of various relevant countries will be outlined to enable the Congolese to draw lessons and expand their understanding of the political consequences of different electoral systems. Special emphasis is placed on the applicable experiences of countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) because of the similarity of their political, economic, cultural and social contexts. There is no such thing as the perfect electoral system. However, it is undeniable that some systems have advantages over others. The design of an electoral system is always influenced by a country’s particular conditions, including its history, culture, politics, demographic composition and the views and roles of key actors. The post-war DRC has the challenge of designing a system that will ensure political stability and fair representation and sustain nation-building efforts. This paper is subdivided into two sections. The first gives a brief account of the political context in the DRC, a factor which will inform the choice of an electoral system for the Congo. The second section describes types of electoral systems, with an emphasis on those used by countries in the SADC region and their political consequences for those countries. In the conclusion, I suggest which electoral system is the most likely to meet the political needs of today’s DRC.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo (AFDL), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Single Member Plurality, Single Member Plurality (SMP), Southern African Development Community (SADC)
journal of african elections vol2 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa