African election management bodies in the era of democratic backsliding

Sonali Campion, Attahiru Muhammadu Jega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although democratisation has evolved unevenly across Africa since the 1990s, there has been progress in the establishment and strengthening of independent election management bodies (EMBs). Since the mid-2000s, scholars and analysts have identified a global trend toward democratic backsliding, characterised in part by the erosion of democratic institutions. Such a trend might be expected to pose significant threats to EMBs. This article contributes new insights through a review of data from the Perceptions of Electoral Integrity and Varieties of Democracy projects. While it finds wide variation in EMB performance and autonomy, there is no overall pattern of decline that might be associated with democratic backsliding in Africa. Case analysis of Ghana and Zambia further demonstrates that the challenges EMBs face are multifaceted and not only driven by anti-democratic leaders. Co-ordinated efforts are therefore needed to strengthen EMB autonomy and capacity to (re)build trust and deliver elections with integrity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-394
Number of pages20
JournalSouth African Journal of International Affairs-SAJIA
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Nov 2023


  • Africa
  • democratic backsliding
  • Election management bodies
  • electoral management
  • Ghana
  • Zambia

Cite this