New Internationalist

Voting highs and lows

August 2002

• Voter participation in competitive elections has declined from an average of 78 per cent in 1945 to 71 per cent in the 1990s.

• Some 86 per cent of voters participated in the first democratic election in East Timor in 2001.

• In February 2001 90 per cent of registered voters in Bahrain turned out to support a referendum to establish a democratically elected chamber in parliament and to set up an independent judiciary.

• Five of the top democracies in voter turnout – Australia, Belgium, Liechtenstein, Nauru and Singapore – enforce compulsory voting laws.

• In Africa 21 out of 53 nations are electoral democracies, though corruption mars many campaigns in the region.

• In Ghana, a president who seized power in a 1981 coup was prevented from continuing a third term by the nation’s constitution. The nation’s first democratic election in 2000 voted in opposition leader John Kufour as president.

_Vital Signs 2002_

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 348 This column was published in the August 2002 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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