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Understanding Elections in Conflict Situations

Reilly, B. (2011) Understanding Elections in Conflict Situations. In: Gilles, David, (ed.) Elections in Dangerous Places: Democracy and the Paradoxes of Peace Building. McGill-Queens University Press, Montreal and KIngston, pp. 3-20.

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Elections have three main functions in a democracy. First, they are means of choosing the people’s representatives to a legislature, congress, or other representative forum, or to a single office such as the presidency. Second, elections are not just a means of choosing representatives but also of choosing governments. Indeed, in practice, elections are primarily a contest between competing political parties to see who will control the government. Finally, elections are a means of conferring legitimacy on the political system. Especially since the end of the Cold War and the third wave of democracy around the world, elections have become an essential element in constituting a legitimate government. Today, very few states in the world do not conduct elections, although the competitiveness and quality of these vary enormously.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
School of Management and Governance
Publisher: McGill-Queens University Press
Copyright: The Author
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