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Electoral Rulings and Public Trust in African Courts and Elections

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On the African continent, where elections are often surrounded by accusations of fraud and manipulation, legal avenues for challenging elections may enhance election integrity and trust in political institutions. Court rulings on electoral petitions have consequences for the distribution of power, but how do they shape public opinion? We theorize and study the way in which court rulings in relation to parliamentary election petitions shape public perceptions of election and judicial legitimacy. Using survey data from the 2016 Zambian election, our results suggest that opposition voters rate quality of elections lower when courts nullify elections. However, judicial legitimacy seems unaffected even for voters in constituencies where the courts have shown independence vis a vis the executive and nulli' fied parliamentary elections won by the governing party.
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Keywords: AFRICA; COURTS; DEMOCRATIZATION; ELECTIONS; INTEGRITY; ZAMBIA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2021

This article was made available online on July 31, 2020 as a Fast Track article with title: "Electoral Rulings and Public Trust in African Courts and Elections".

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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