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Call for entries
Electoral processes in French-speaking Africa
Deadline: June 15, 2024
Télécharger la version française ici



  • Context

 “You don’t organize elections to lose them“. Former Congolese president Pascal Lissouba (1) perfectly sums up the prejudices surrounding elections in French-speaking Africa. They seem destined to keep the leaders in power in their political positions and privileges. However, since the democratization movements of the 1990s, electoral processes have undergone significant changes, marked by a quest for democratization and citizen participation. Regular and transparent multiparty elections have become a central instrument for legitimizing power. However, the institutionalization of elections as a new rule of the political game has not led to alternation of power in many French-speaking African states. Indeed, a number of political leaders from the single-party era, vaguely shaken by the wave of democratization, have managed to regain control and are still in power (Paul Biya in Cameroon; Denis Sassou-Nguesso in the Republic of Congo and Théodoro Obiang Nguema in Equatorial Guinea) (2). Still others left power involuntarily following their death or a coup d’état (Idriss Déby Itno, former president of Chad, who died in power on April 20, 2021; Omar Bongo, former president of Gabon, who died in power in 2009; Blaise Compaoré, following a mass uprising in Burkina Faso). All these examples and many others have reinforced the assertion that elections in Africa are a “democratic mirage” (3), given the challenges of transparency, credibility, citizen participation and conflict management that characterize them.

In terms of transparency, credibility and citizen participation, electoral processes in French-speaking Africa are not generally clear and inclusive. Elections do not always offer equal opportunities for all eligible citizens to participate as voters or candidates (4). Moreover, not all stages of the electoral process are subject to scrutiny or verification by all stakeholders (ibid.), and electoral administration is often accused of bias due to the domestication of electoral management structures. These broad outlines include, at the same time, the traceability of the election financing system, gender dynamics and the reliability of results. The issue of conflict management focuses on pre- and post-electoral conflicts, which are a significant cause of civil wars and human rights violations in French-speaking Africa.

Furthermore, analysis of electoral processes in French-speaking Africa brings to the fore opposition political parties, some of which have managed to win elections under unfavorable conditions (5), as well as para-political players such as associations, lobbies, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and trade unions, which in several African countries have influenced the course of elections. Between coalitions/alliances, questioning of election results, boycotts and white marches, these players have sometimes succeeded in undermining the hegemony of the ruling parties in the electoral game. While 2024 is marked by a busy electoral calendar, with nineteen African countries, including twelve from French-speaking Africa, holding presidential or general elections (Comoros, Mali, Senegal, Chad, South Africa, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Algeria, Mozambique, Botswana, Somaliland, Tunisia, Mauritius, Namibia, Ghana, South Sudan, Guinea Bissau and Guinea), it is important to take stock of thirty-four years of organizing pluralist elections in a general context where electoral democracy seems to be losing all credibility.

  • Objectives

The Governance and Democracy Division of the Nkafu Policy Institute, think tank of the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation, is launching this call for papers to bring together a wide range of scientific contributions on electoral processes in French-speaking Africa. Specifically, these include :

  • Assess the evolution of the electoral process in one or more countries through a concrete analysis of progress and challenges;
  • Analyze the roles of political and para-political actors in electoral dynamics since 1990;
  • Formulate recommendations to guarantee the smooth running of electoral processes and ensure the legitimacy of governments.
  • Food for thought

Without being exhaustive, the reflections can be articulated around the following axes:

1- Electoral process stakeholders, their actions, interactions and strategies.

2- The official rules and social practices of the electoral game.

3- The legitimacy of the electoral system.

4- Management of pre-electoral and electoral operations.

5- Electoral disputes (before, during and after elections).

6- Digital technologies and electoral transparency.

Axis 7- The role of the media in the organization of elections.

Axis 8- The influence of para-political actors on electoral dynamics.

Axis 9- Mass participation of women and young people and electoral dynamics.

Axis 10- Political culture and abstention from elections.

  • Practical details

Proposals for contributions (in French or English) of between 1500 and 2000 words maximum (excluding abstract and author’s references) should be presented in Times New Roman, Font 12, single-spaced. They should be accompanied by an abstract and four keywords. Citations should be made in hyperlink mode. Interested authors should send their papers by July 29, 2024 to the following e-mail address: [email protected] with a copy to [email protected] and [email protected]. Revised articles will be returned to the authors on August 16, 2024, with a re-submission deadline of September 2, 2024. Articles that comply with the terms and conditions and comments will be published on the ON POLICY Africa magazine website ( and in its October 2024 Special Edition.

  • Relevance to contributors

This call for policy briefs is an opportunity for researchers to increase their scientific output and visibility in the research sector. The articles received are carefully evaluated by experts to guarantee their quality and relevance, before being published on the ON Policy Africa website, a magazine with a worldwide readership that puts into perspective research that aims to make the voice of the South heard in the global political discourse.