Centro de Pesquisas sobre Governação e Desenvolvimento | Centre for Research on Governance and Development

Assessing the Democratic Quality of Local Elections in Mozambique

Working Papers
Carlos Shenga

Abstract: Based on official data on local elections that have been conducted in Mozambique since 1998, this study finds that whilst the democratic quality of local elections is low, there is evidence these elections are moving the country further towards democratization albeit in a context where the ruling party controls electoral rules and institutions. The assessment found low levels of political participation, competition and election legitimacy but with some progressive changes overtime. Opposition contestation in some elections has produced alternation of political power in some municipalities. The dominant party lost 5 out of 33 municipalities in the 2003 local election and 1 out of 3 municipalities in the 2011 by-election. The incumbent party returned to power in the 2008 local election by taking back 4 of the 5 municipalities they lost in 2003. In the same 2008 election an independent candidate defeated both the dominant party and main opposition candidates in one municipality. This study ends by suggesting areas of further research for Mozambican electoral scholars and highlighting trends that may be of interest to internal and external democratic practitioners’ whose aim is to improve the Mozambican electoral democracy.