Electoral governance: understanding the democratic quality of elections in Nigeria
This thesis explores the potential impacts of electoral governance on the democratic quality of elections in Nigeria. It concentrates on the debates over the role electoral administration in securing the credibility of elections in emerging democracies, using Nigeria as an example. The thesis argues that the explanation of democratic quality of elections is best approached through comparative case studies, relying on detailed accounts of election observers, interview respondents and the perceptions of the electorate. Drawing insights from the literature on democratisation, the thesis offers a straightforward conceptual and methodological model for gauging the democratic quality of elections, emphasising the relevance of electoral governance in Nigeria. It is a comparative study of the conduct of the 2007 and the 2011 elections that shared various social and institutional variables but differ in significant ways. The case comparison illustrates how the institutional dynamics of election management influence elections quality, explaining the various interconnections between the democratic quality of elections and electoral governance in Nigeria. It provides a contextual explanation of key political terms like participation, competition and perceived legitimacy. The failures and achievements recorded in the 2007 and 2011 general elections respectively depend on effective electoral governance. The restructuring of the autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and improvement of the electoral cycles recorded in the 2011 elections plus the active contribution of the electoral courts and tribunals set the stage for an increasingly fair political engagements of contestants. It has enhanced the quality of individual voter pariticipation in the 2011 elections. These case-based findings substantiate, empirically, various assumptions in the literature, particularly those explicit in the work of Mozaffar & Schedler (2002) and Elklit & Reynolds, (2002; 2005).