African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 403


The ‘Significance of Elections’ in Africa: 2015 elections and democratic consolidation in Nigeria

Abiodun Fatai
  • Abiodun Fatai
  • Department of Political Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Lagos State University, Nigeria.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 28 August 2018
  •  Accepted: 15 October 2018
  •  Published: 31 December 2018


 While it can be argued that elections are not enough for the consolidation of democracy, elections are fast emerging as a significant component of democratization. Not least, because their regularity has enhanced freedom and liberalization, but also because they have been the cause and/or effect of democratic consolidation. As a key component of democracy, elections have become the barometer and template upon which other liberal democratic principles are institutionalised. The paper examines elections in Africa, using the recently concluded 2015 elections in Nigeria to show the significance and effect of credible elections to democratic consolidation by situating its argument within the context of Staffan Lindberg theoretical postulation. The paper adopts a qualitative analysis drawing data from PhD field work conducted in 2014. It also makes use of available texts from INEC document, elections observers’ reports, data from Freedom House and Polity scores and other documentary evidences to analyze the election. The study argues that, regularities of elections have potential for democratic improvement and that the 2015 elections have restored Nigeria back on the path of democratic consolidation through elite acceptance of electoral outcome, electoral turnover, elite pact and consensus, coordinated opposition and effective electoral management. It further suggests that more democratic reforms are required to ensure strengthening of the electoral process and institutions in the interest of democratic consolidation in Nigeria.


Key words: Elections, electoral turnover, democratization, democratic consolidation, Legitimacy.