Conflict and Fragility


Elections in Niger: casting ballots or casting doubts

21 Dec 2020 - 12:09
Source: Supporters surround Bazoum during his rally in Agadez, Source: Souleymane Ag Anara

This article is written by Clingendael's Research Fellow Johannes Claes, Research Associate Rida Lyammouri and the Navanti Group staff. 

Niger could see its first democratic transition since independence as the country heads to the polls for the presidential election on 27 December. Current President Mahamadou Issoufou has indicated he will respect his constitutionally mandated two-term limit of 10 years, passing the flag to his protégé, Mohamed Bazoum. Political instability looms, however, as Issoufou and Bazoum’s Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and a coalition of opposition parties fail to agree on the rules of the game. Political inclusion and enhanced trust in the institutions governing Niger’s electoral process are key if the risk of political crisis is to be avoided. Niger’s central role in Western policymakers’ security and political agendas in the Sahel — coupled with its history of four successful coups in 1976, 1994, 1999, and 2010 — serve to caution Western governments that preserving stability through political inclusion should take top priority over clinging to a political candidate that best represents foreign interests. During a turbulent electoral year in the region, Western governments must focus on the long-term goals of stabilizing and legitimizing Niger’s political system as a means of ensuring an ally in security and migration matters — not the other way around.

In order to better understand the perceptions and concerns of Nigériens in the run up to these elections, the Clingendael Institute and Navanti partnered to conduct data collection and analysis throughout all seven regions and the capital district. This article will lay out some of the key stumbling blocks that lie ahead in the electoral process before moving to what is at stake during these elections by zooming in on the expressed concerns of surveyed and interviewed respondents.

Read full article.

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