Issue 18: Elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

This policy brief examines the December 2018 presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It posits that in hybrid regimes, where tendencies of liberal democracies and authoritarianism remain present, neo-patrimonialism and personalized clientelism determine politics and the outcome of elections. In politics in Africa, elites continue to see elections not as fundamental expression of collective choice, but rather as a mere legitimizing process. Neo-patrimonialism and personalized clientelism affect the principle of democratic accountability by awarding loyalty over competence, and wealth and power over moral character. Such practices are still prevalent in the DRC, possibly explaining the tumultuous run-up to the election and Felix Tshisekedi’s recent controversial election victory. Creating strong institutions, increasing democratic accountability by strengthening the judicial system, and ramping-up anti-corruption efforts are some of the steps the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo should take to ensure free, fair, and meaningful future elections.

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