A Silent Revolution: Zambias 2021 General Election

This paper discusses Zambia’s 2021 election which was held in a context
of democratic backsliding and poor economic performance. The election
resulted in Zambia’s third alternation of power between political parties
since the democratic wave of the 1990s. The ruling Patriotic Front (PF)
used its incumbent advantages to control institutions that were crucial for
promoting democracy and ensuring a credible election. The election was also
characterised by political violence which limited the ability for the opposition
United Party for National Development (UPND) to mobilise freely. Further,
an Afrobarometer survey conducted in December 2020 showed that half of all
citizens surveyed were unwilling to declare who they would vote for, thereby
suppressing the extent of UPND’s support. Yet, the UPND won 59% in the
presidential election and won the most parliamentary seats in an election that
had one of the highest voter-turnouts since the advent of Zambia’s multi-party
democracy. This paper argues that there was a ‘silent revolution’ in Zambia
that resulted in the defeat of the PF. It also shows that Zambian citizens have
not been complacent in the face of democratic backsliding.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
journal of african elections vol20 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa