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Fraudulent Elections: A Look At Russia, Iran And Nigeria

1628 words - 7 pages

Despite the governments’ attempts to portray a democratic front, the obvious corruption and fraud involved in the presidential elections over the last few years in Russia, Iran, and Nigeria expose the reality of the situations. In examining the election processes of these three countries, one can clearly see that the electoral body is not independent of the party in power. The poor electoral processes have snowballed into a legitimacy crisis in Nigeria and full-fledged riots in Russia and Iran; though the authorities were able to repress these public demonstrations, the governments’ legitimacy continues to be challenged. The considerable public outcry against the results shows that the elections do not accurately reflect the intentions of the voters, that there was widespread fraud in which the vote counts for the winning candidate were significantly augmented. In addition, the cycle of fraudulent elections in these nations has created a lack of social capital and greatly hindered the pace of democratization within each of the states.
Nigeria has a long history of corruption and violence marring the process of electing the country’s leaders. Assassination, voter intimidation, and ballot tampering have all been common factors of past elections; rather than focusing on the pressing issues facing Nigerians, the elections have been centered on the acquisition of power. The 2007 elections “marked the first time in the…postindependence history of [Nigeria]…that one civilian government would hand over power to another,” and what should have been a milestone for democracy was instead “riddled with corruption and malfeasance.” What could have been a break in the long chain of violence and corruption involved with the election process, created a legitimacy crisis for the Nigerian government, “as the new president was poorly vetted and had a narrow constituency.” Though the “…candidates challenged the 2007 election results… the courts did not formally resolve [it] for over a year. Election tribunals sifted through hundreds of other results, overturning several key governorships, further confirming the fundamental problems with the voting process.”
The most recent presidential election in Nigeria had a bittersweet outcome; though “this most recent balloting offered a broadly credible and competitive exercise across most of the country…[it] has also sharpened sectional tensions that could upset Nigeria’s fragile political equilibrium.” After Jonathan’s formal assumption of the presidency, following President Yar”Adua’s death, he appointed Jega as the new INEC chairman to supervise the 2011 elections. Jega made many reforms to the electoral process including using electronic devices for voting and the use of an “open secret ballot” to decrease the chance of fraud. As a result, during the polling, “there were few evident flaws or irregularities… a stark contrast to the chaos and misconduct seen in the same area during the last election cycle.” ...

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