Voting practices and voters' political thinking during the 2010 Burundi elections
Institute of Development Policy and Management
Antwerpen :UA, 2011
Discussion paper / UA, Institute of Development Policy and Management ; 2011:06
University of Antwerp
A scholarly consensus exists regarding the fact that electoral processes can facilitate democratisation but can equally be the source of instability and/or advance authoritarian rule. Generally, these processes are analyzed by focussing on macro-political institutions and actors. This paper, however, presents a « bottom-up » analysis of the 2010 electoral proces in Burundi through the analysis of survey results that are representative for the Burundian electorate. The results reveal the existence of two regional tendencies regarding political mobilisation. In addition, four major electoral groups can be identified throughout the Burundian territory. Although the generic motivation to exercise civic rights and democratic duties through elections is widespread throughout these electoral groups and regions, the findings reveal that an important part of the electorate is either disinterested or characterized by populistic or clientelistic thinking and behaviour. The findings also suggest the existence of a divide between the perceived preoccupations of the political class and the aspirations of the ordinary population. Situated in the context of twenty years of political transition in Burundi, these pragmatic and populistic practices and local ways of political thinking observed during the 2010 electoral process reveal the danger of an instrumentalisation of these tendencies by anti-democratic and/ or violent forces. Secondly, it raises the question how to democratize Burundis political transition in substance, thus also in local popular thoughts and practices.