RESEARCH PAPER - "All the voters will be dead": HIV/AIDS and democratic legitimacy and stability in Africa

Jeremy Youde

    Research output: Other contribution

    Abstract

    HIV/AIDS is ravaging sub-Saharan Africa, with infection rates as high as 36 percent. At the same time, most of these countries have recently begun the democratization process and have only nascent democratic practices and institutions. This research explores the connection between HIV/AIDS and democratic legitimacy and stability in Africa by focusing on five of the six most-infected countries on the continent: Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The results show that HIV/AIDS does have the potential to pose a major threat to democratic legitimacy and stability in the region due to three factors. First, cumbersome voter registration laws and the deaths of politically neutral civil servants who administer the elections increase the chances for electoral fraud. Second, the likely economic decline further imperils the chances of successful democratization, as positive links exist between economic development and democratization. Third, since those in their teens and 20s and the educated/professional classes have borne the brunt of the disease so far, their deaths will impinge upon the development of a vibrant civil society which can not only agitate for democratization, but also keep the government in check. The confluence of these three factors makes the impact of HIV/AIDS larger than any previously faced. This research demonstrates the need for aggressive, concerted efforts at HIV/AIDS prevention as a part of democratization programs, and how HIV/AIDS fits in with IFES’ four pillars.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationWashington, DC
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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