Adapting to electoral system change: voters in Lesotho, 2002

SOURCE: Journal of African Elections
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2003
TITLE AUTHOR(S): R.Fox, R.Southall
KEYWORDS: ELECTIONS, ELECTORAL SYSTEM, LESOTHO
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 2534

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Abstract

On 25 May 2002 voters in the small southern African kingdom of Lesotho went to the polls ion the third general election since the country returned to democracy after a long period of civilian dictatorship (1970-1986) and military rule (198601993). Although voting in all Lesotho's general elections has usually gone smooth, en every case prior to 2002 the results have been challenged, with varying degrees of severity, by the losing parties. The purpose of this short paper is to address the question about voters' understanding and to demonstrate their ability to adapt to electoral system change. This, we suggest, throws doubt on any argument that electoral reforms in Africa should be avoided on grounds of the alleged lack of sophistication of poor and largely uneducated voters. Ordinary people appear to have no huge difficulty understanding the broad principles of electoral democracy, even if the detailed mechanics of "mixed" voting systems may be beyond them.