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Why has the electoral process in the newly democratised African states had such limited impacts? How can the continued one-party dominance on the continent be explained despite the reintroduction of political freedoms, substantial external financial support to these processes, and a variety of institutional reforms to back the democratic processes? The report confronts these questions by conducting a review of the literature that has focused on a) the main characteristics of the electoral arrangements of sub-Saharan African states, b) the characteristics of parties in the region, and c) the behaviour and attitudes of the electorate. In the second part, we illustrate the general findings and conclusions of part one with an analysis of electoral policies in Zambia since the reintroduction of multiparty politics in 1991. In the final part, we assess the role of the international donor community in terms of electoral assistance to sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s and ask what the international community can do to improve the quality and content of electoral processes. This report was originally commissioned by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and submitted December 2001.

Lise Rakner

Professor at University of Bergen and Affiliated Research Professor

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