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Terms & Definitions
Political Systems
Democracy [Electoral Democracy]: Nations with governments elected through generally legitimate, free, and fair elections that reflect the will of the people, a freely operating political opposition, and a climate that encourages respect of both political rights and civil liberties. There are currently 18 democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Comoros, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, São Tomé & Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia.
Emerging Democracy: Nations with emerging democratic systems have governments that have come to power though a more legitimate democratic process than those with a restricted system, however, factors such as a dominant political party, free but unfair elections, and a weak rule of law prevent it from being a fully democratic state. There are currently 7 emerging democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, and Nigeria. The self-declared, breakaway Republic of Somaliland is also considered an emerging democracy.
Restricted Democratic Practice: These are primarily regimes in which a dominant ruling party controls the levers of power, including access to the media, and the electoral process in ways that preclude a meaningful challenge to its political hegemony. There are currently 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with a restricted democratic practice: Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Côte D'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, EthiopiaGabon, The Gambia, Mauritania, Rwanda, Sudan, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
Military Regime: Governments that are set up and run by military officials. Most military regimes seize power through coup d'etats and rebellion.
Multiparty Transition: Period in which there is a transition from one party or military rule in which provisions are made to permit multiparty politics, but elections are yet to be held.
One Party State: Nations that have a constitutionally mandated sole legal party. Eritrea is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa under one party rule.
[De-Facto] One Party State: Nations that have all the characteristics of a one party state except for the legal/constitutional provisions making it official.
Absolute Monarchy: Nations in which effective political and governmental authority rests with the monarch.
Traditional Monarchy: Nations in which effective political and governmental authority rests with the monarch, but the existence of modern political structures such as a parliament and limited elections prevent it from being an absolute monarchy. Swaziland is the only traditional monarchy in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Transitional Government: Governments installed through non-democratic processes (coups, military, peace-deals, power-sharing agreements, etc.) and rule for a limited amount of time until a permanent government can come to power. There are currently 4 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with transitional governments: Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, and Somalia.
Transition to Multiracial rule: Term used to describe the period in South Africa after Apartheid was abolished but before elections were held (1990-1994).
Electoral System Definitions
Block Vote - A plurality/majority system used in multi-member districts in which electors have as many votes as there are candidates to be elected. Voting can be either candidate-centered or party-centered. Counting is identical to a First Past the Post system, with the candidates with the highest vote totals winning the seats.
First Past The Post - The simplest form of plurality/majority electoral system. The winning candidate is the one who gains more votes than any other candidate, even if this is not an absolute majority of valid votes. In Legislative Elections, the First Past The Post system uses single-member districts and the voters vote for candidates rather than political parties.
Mixed Member Proportional - A mixed system in which the choices expressed by the voters are used to elect representatives through two different systems - Party-list Proportional Representation and (usually) one plurality/majority system - where the Party-list Proportional Representation system compensates for the disproportionality in the results from the plurality/majority system.
Parallel System - A mixed system in which the choices expressed by the voters are used to elect representatives through two different systems.
Party-List Proportional Representation - Under this system, each party or grouping presents a list of candidates for a multi-member electoral district, the voters vote for a party, and parties receive seats in proportion to their overall share of the vote.
Party Block Vote is a plurality/majority system using multi-member districts in which voters cast a single party-centered vote for a party of choice, and do not choose between candidates. The party with most votes will win every seat in the electoral district.
Two-Round (Run-off) System - A plurality/majority system. The name indicates the central feature of the system: that it is not one election, but takes place in two rounds, often a week or a fortnight apart. The first round is conducted in the same way as a normal First Past the Post election. If a candidate receives an absolute majority of the vote, then they are elected outright, with no need for a second ballot. If, however, no candidate receives an absolute majority, then a second round of voting is conducted, and the winner of this round is declared elected.