The 2012 General Elections in Sierra Leone: Democratic Consolidation or Semi-authoritarian Regime



In 2012, following the conclusion of the third elections since the end of the war in January 2002, international organizations proclaimed the elections free, fair, and peaceful2 despite numerous reports of vote buying and other irregularities during the polls. As a result of the proclaimed free and fair verdict, the United Nations and some analysts concluded that the country is on the road to consolidating democracy, especially since the United Nations holds up Sierra Leone as a success story—its progress toward democracy a product of the international community’s postwar intervention and democratization efforts. This chapter argues that such conclusions are untenable in the face of evidence presented. It focuses on the 2012 elections, calling into question both the “free and fair verdict” and the claims that Sierra Leone is on the path to consolidating democracy. It critically considers whether there is a regime committed to democracy in place, or rather a hybrid semi-authoritarian regime. To explore these questions, this chapter outlines the conceptual differences between democratic consolidation and hybrid regimes and poses the following questions: How is democratic consolidation measured? What are the characteristics and/or typologies of a hybrid regime? Is Sierra Leone consolidating democracy or is the country increasinglybecoming a semi-authoritarian state? Using Linz and Stepan’s (1996) behavioral foundation of democratic consolidation and Ottaway’s (2003) conception of a hybrid regime as semi-authoritarian, this chapter concludes that Sierra Leone is more of a semi-authoritarian state than one consolidating democracy.


Vice President Democratic Consolidation Hybrid Regime Opposition Leader Ballot Paper 
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© Marda Mustapha 2016

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