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Democratisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: a comparative study of the 2006, 2011 and 2018 presidential elections


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Mulumba, ATT ORCID: 0000-0001-6760-6603 2021 , 'Democratisation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: a comparative study of the 2006, 2011 and 2018 presidential elections', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Democratisation in developing countries, especially in Africa, remains an incomplete and, in many cases, elusive project.
The literature on democratisation is vast and there are many different possible understandings of the term and the process. This thesis builds on the work of Huntington, Dahl, Schmitter, Rustow and to some extent Lindberg to develop an analytic framework to investigate one critical dimension of democratisation: electoral democratisation.
While there are many possible criteria one could employ in examining processes of democratisation, this thesis focuses on its electoral components and on the degree to which these exhibit accountability, transparency and the rule of law.
The thesis employs the single case study methodology, the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and qualitative research methods (academic and ‘grey’ literature review) supplemented by media reports, to gather data on the 2006, 2011 and 2018 presidential elections.
The focus on the DRC is justified because of its regional importance and its regular holding of elections, which are a critical feature of any meaningful conception of democratisation. Given its pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial struggles, the DRC also constitutes a ‘difficult case’: If democratisation is possible in the DRC, it is likely to be possible elsewhere in Africa since few other African countries have been at the centre of so much inter-ethnic violence and warfare.
The thesis findings are twofold. Firstly, considering the anti-democratic environment from which DRC emerged, the 2006, 2011 and 2018 elections all demonstrate signs of progress towards democratisation in terms of greater accountability, transparency, and the rule of law. However, secondly, even though there were progressive improvements based on the three criteria employed and across the three elections analysed, these are judged to fall well short of the minimum required to deliver credible elections. Thus, the rise of multiparty and electoral politics in the DRC has failed to result in the consolidation of meaningful electoral democracy.
On this second point, the study found extensive evidence of a lack of accountability and transparency from key electoral institutions and actors as well as frequent violations of civic rights, which were targeted at repressing political expression. These findings also highlight the need to improve the quality of DRC’s key electoral institutions to drive significant electoral reforms and to strengthen state capacity for a promising democratic future.
This thesis highlights both the importance of, and difficulty in, achieving democratisation through electoral means in the absence of a wider culture of democratisation within a country. In the absence of a democratic culture fostered through education, strong national institutions, and political leadership, elections merely legitimise the status quo.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Mulumba, ATT
Keywords: Elections, Democracy, Congo, Africa, Accountability, Transparence, Rights, Politics
DOI / ID Number: 10.25959/100.00045644
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Copyright 2021 the author

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