The perfect enemy: From migrants to sexual minorities

Siri Gloppen, Lise Rakner (2019)

Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Brief no. 2019:05) 4 p.

Why did Poland´s conservative government, the Law and Justice Party, launch an attack on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people (LGBT) as part of their 2019 European Parliamentary elections campaign? The ruling nationalist party aimed to stem a decline in its popularity ahead of the elections by arguing that the opposition’s support for sex-education that recognizes LGBT people, is a threat to Polish culture and should be stopped. Poland’s governing party is far from alone in seizing on sexual minorities for mobilization purposes.


Democratic Rollback in Africa

Lise Rakner (2019)

In Nic Cheeseman: The Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics. Oxford University Press.

Lise Rakner´s  article Democratic Rollback in Africa, has been published in the OUPPolitics Encyclopedia of African Politics edited by , Nic Cheeseman, Birmingham University. For more articles in the Encyclopedia, see:


Electoral Politics in Africa since 1990

Jaimie Bleck, Nicolas van de Walle (2018)

Democratic transitions in the early 1990s introduced a sea change in Sub-Saharan African politics. Between 1990 and 2015, several hundred competitive legislative and presidential elections were held in all but a handful of the region's countries. This book is the first comprehensive comparative analysis of the key issues, actors, and trends in these elections over the last quarter century. The book asks: what motivates African citizens to vote? What issues do candidates campaign on? How has the turn to regular elections promoted greater democracy? Has regular electoral competition made a difference for the welfare of citizens? The authors argue that regular elections have both caused significant changes in African politics and been influenced in turn by a rapidly changing continent - even if few of the political systems that now convene elections can be considered democratic, and even if many old features of African politics persist.


Breaking BAD: Understanding Backlash Against Democracy in Africa

Lise Rakner (2018)

Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Insight 2018:1)

There is a trend of democratic retrenchment across the African continent. Despite democratic gains in some states, the overall tendency over the past decade has been the erosion of democratic gains won in the period after 1990. Democracy is challenged in ways that pose threats to freedom of speech, association and information, the ability to choose political leaders, rule of law with recourse to independent courts, protection of personal integrity and private life.

This CMI Insight discusses the ambiguous and multifaceted features of democratic backlash in Africa, and responses from international and domestic actors.

Picture:  UNAMID  - Albert Gonzalez Farran -  CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Picture: UNAMID - Albert Gonzalez Farran - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Do donors reduce bilateral aid to countries with restrictive NGO laws?: A panel study, 1993-2012

Kendra Dupuy & Aseem Prakash (2018)

In Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

Foreign aid contributes to about 10% of gross domestic product of developing countries. To distribute aid in recipient countries, Western donors increasingly rely on non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Yet, since the mid-1990s, 39 developing countries have adopted laws restricting the inflow of foreign aid to NGOs operating in their jurisdictions. In response to these restrictions, have bilateral donors reduced aid, either as a punishment or because they cannot find appropriate NGOs for aid delivery?

We explore this question by examining a panel of 134 aid-receiving countries for the years 1993-2012. We find that all else equal, the adoption of a restrictive NGO finance law is associated with a 32% decline in bilateral aid inflows in subsequent years. These findings hold even after controlling for levels of democracy and civil liberties, which suggests that aid reduction responds to the removal of NGOs from aid delivery chains, and not to democracy recession.


Strategies of Repression: Judicial and Extrajudicial Methods of Autocratic Survival

Fiona Shen-Bayh (2018)

In World Politics

Strategies of repression vary widely between extrajudicial and judicial extremes, from unrestrained acts of violence to highly routinized legal procedures. While the former have received a great deal of scholarly attention, judicial methods remain relatively understudied. When and why do rulers repress their rivals in court?

The author argues that autocrats use a judicial strategy of repression when confronting challengers from within the ruling elite. Unlike regime outsiders, who pose a common, external threat to mobilize against, insiders present a more divisive target. When autocrats confront the latter, a judicial strategy legitimizes punishment, deters future rivals, and generates shared beliefs regarding incumbent strength and challenger weakness.

Using original data on political prisoners in postcolonial sub-Saharan Africa, the author finds that autocrats were significantly more likely to use a judicial strategy against insiders and an extrajudicial strategy against outsiders. A case study of Kenya traces the logic of the theory, showing how intraregime conflict made courts a valuable instrument of state repression. The findings demonstrate how courts can play a central role in autocratic survival.


The Impact of elections: The case of Uganda

Svein-Erik Helle, Lise Rakner (2017)

In Johannes Gerschewski, Christoph H. Stefes: Crisis in Autocratic Regimes. Lynne Rienner Publishers pp. 111-134

The comparative democratization literature is divided on the effects of multiparty elections in non - democratic regimes. Early analyses assumed that elections would lead to democracy, yet more recent studies highlight that elections may serve as a stabilizing tool, enabling incumbents to distribute patronage and coopt the opposition. Analyzing the case of Uganda and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) rule from 1986 through Uganda's third multiparty elections February 18 2016, we argue that multiparty elections may have both a stabilizing and destabilizing effect on non - democratic rule.

During its 30 - year rule, NRM and President Museveni have presided over three different institutional arrangements. The decision to introduce multiparty elections in 2005 was a response to decaying no - party rule. Through three electoral cycles (2006, 2011, 2016) multiparty elections have stabilized the regime in the short - to - medium turn, in particular through tight control of rural voters and manipulation of local government structures created and maintained in a “no - party ” setting. However, the same mechanisms that have contributed to this stability have also resulted in institutional erosion and decay as the NRM struggles with succession politics and the changing nature of the electorate. While the effect of voluntarily institutionalizing multi - party electoral competition might be to stabilize the regime, the long - term consequences might be opposite.