Voting highs and lows

• 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.

mag cover This article is from the August 2002 issue of New Internationalist. You can access the entire archive of over 500 issues with a digital subscription. Get a free trial now »

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