n Journal of African Elections - Irish electoral politics




Why might South and Southern Africans find the Irish electoral experience especially relevant and instructive? Firstly, they may identify parallels with their own recent political history. Ireland's political institutions are the result of a post-colonial settlement and were designed to accommodate an ethnic minority. They survived a long period of one-party rule. Historically they were specially suited to the political predispositions of a mainly rural society. Secondly, Irish electoral arrangements offer to Southern Africans useful lessons for any effort to make political representatives more accountable to citizens. For better or for worse downwards accountability is an especially pronounced feature of Irish politics. This paper will explore Irish electoral experience and the insights it offers to advocates of electoral reform in Southern Africa.


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