Class Suppression in Kenya by Way of the Jubilee Party?

A new way to vote in Kenya’s primary elections has drawn both praise and criticism from politicians and voters in the country. In January, the Jubilee party alliance introduced “smart cards” to Kenyan voters as a new, technologically savvy way to participate in the election. The cards, which are plastic and contain individualized bar codes for each voter, serve as an attempt to minimize voter fraud and illegitimate government intrusion. They are only being used for citizens who are voting for members of the Jubilee party.

Some Kenyan leaders, including the President and his deputy, are hopeful that the cards will create credibility in the primary elections. The presidential elections in 2007-2008 were tarnished by claims of both voter manipulation and government interference. These allegations led to mass displays of violence in the country which took hundreds of lives.

The smart cards include each voter’s name, address, and age. Issues with them have already sprung up in Kenya, including a shortage of cards, the emergence of fake cards, and the inability to spread them to rural areas.

Critics are skeptical of both the efficacy of the cards and the true reason behind their implementation. One glaring issue with the new voter cards is their cost. Each card is twenty Kenyan shillings.

Those running for office in the party can purchase the cards themselves, with no limit to the number they can buy, and disperse them according to their own discretion. Wealthier incumbents, therefore, can purchase more cards and, in turn, give them to wealthier voters.

Aspirants who are poorer cannot afford to spend as much money on the cards and fear that they will lose votes because of this. Some believe this process will elect representatives with only the intention to serve the rich.

Smart cards also require a smartphone or computer to activate. This is troubling for Kenyans who don’t have this technology, Kenyans who are not wealthy. The Jubilee party, which was founded in early 2016 when eleven like-minded parties merged, is already associated by many Kenyans with wealth and power.

The Jubilee party’s wealthy member’s near monopolization of the ability to vote, and the exclusion of Kenyans with less wealth, is suggestive that a new political class is forming in Kenya.

174 of Kenya’s 290 representatives belong to the Jubilee party, a striking majority. The new card system benefits these incumbents because, after their time in the legislative arm, they have accumulated more wealth than many aspirants who are attempting to challenge them.

This dynamic, ever growing accumulation of power and the fusion of elites within Kenya, complement Richard Sklar’s idea of class in Africa. Sklar theorizes that real class relations are based on power rather than production, and the power to vote is a particularly compelling one.

Wealthy incumbents, known to some as “hippos” are attaching a monetary value to the ability to vote, effectively eliminating a poorer voting pool. Giving a political party, one that holds majority control of both the legislative and executive arms of government, the power to distribute (or abstain from distributing in some cases) their own ballots infringes on the voting rights of Kenyans.

One mega party that decides, through economic means, who gets to vote and who doesn’t is a clear indication of restricting liberty. Politicians and citizens alike should keep their eye on the Jubilee party.

Madeline Karp studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. 

Fees Must Fall Movement In South Africa: Outcomes, Implications and Why It Matters

How did it start?

The University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa saw a wave of student protests in March 2015 with the sole purpose to “decolonize” the university and to rid itself of the presumably offensive colonial symbols such as the statue of Cecil John Rhodes.

Given South Africa’s brutal colonial past, this call to decolonize UCT was met with extensive publicity by all major local media and also by international news agencies such as BBC and The Washington Post. After about a month of protests, the University’s Senate and Council both agreed that the statue would be removed. This removal took place on 9 April 2015.

The success of this call to remove Rhode’s statue from UCT galvanized students across the question other things that need to “fall” with regard to tertiary education. At the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, students protested the proposed increase in tuition fees on a large scale days before a summit organized by the Minister of Higher Education and Training was to be held. This protest spread nation-wide into what is now known as the Fees Must Fall campaign.

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University of Cape Town students march during the #FeesMustFall protest on October 03, 2016 in Cape Town South Africa

What has been the government’s response?

The Fees Must Fall campaign was revived in August 2016 given that the Minister of Higher Education and Training was expected to announce fees structure for the 2017 academic year. The ministry announced that increase in fees would be capped at 8%. President Jacob Zuma established a ​ministerial team consisting eight ministers to ‘‘normalise the situation at higher education institutions across South Africa, working with all stakeholders.”

Recently, higher education and training received an extra R5 billion set to be allocated to top up the R32 billion injection of funds already allocated for higher education student funding over the medium term. However, Fees Must Fall activists at some universities are not pleased with this extra funds allocation, even calling it an insult. The government, on the other hand, says with current severe financial constraints, this is the best they can do.

How does this campaign relate to decolonizing education in South Africa?

On February 16, 2017, Imraan Coovadia, the director of the creative writing program at the University of Cape Town, wrote an OP-ED in the New York Times where he says​—​paraphrased​—​ that the Fees Must Fall campaign has a different objective from the Rhodes Must Fall movement from which it was formed. So in short, the Rhodes Must Fall movement was aimed at decolonizing education whereas the Fees Must Fall campaign is pushing for an unsustainable policy of free higher education and wholesale cultural transformation.

However, that is not how the predominantly black activists see the aim of this campaign. Even though black students outnumber whites by four to 1, there is still a need to increase access of education to the majority black people in South Africa. And as argued by activist at the University of ​Witwatersrand, pushing for a free tertiary education would greatly increase access to education for the majority poor black South Africans. They, therefore, argue in a rather radical way that access is one way of ensuring the decolonization of the education system.

What insights does the Fees Must Fall campaign give about student power in 21st century Africa?

The Fees Must Fall campaign gives an insight about the kind of relationship that exists between national student organizations and governments, and the ideological differences there exists between these two groups. In many democratized African states, national student organizations

have greater autonomy over their actions. They are recognized by their respective states, just as a matter of course.

However, they are free to take actions that they feel best reflect the needs of their student members. Gone are the days when national student organizations primarily served as the surrogates of the state who were primarily tasked to exercise control over their members and work with governments in policy-making.

The Fees Must Fall campaign shows the lack of trust students have in the South African government. South African politicians, included the sitting president, Jacob Zuma, have had cases of corruption and use of state funds for personal aggrandizement brought against them. Income inequality is a huge problem in the country and unemployment rates keep soaring year after year.

The apparent lack of counter actions to this problems have increased the sense of mistrust students have for their governments. Students are, therefore, unwilling to partake in the government processes because they see it as corrupt and inefficient. They just want their needs to be met, and have little to do with the state afterwards as they vie for a upper middle class position in society.

Kofi Ofosu studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. 

What the opposition at the South African State of the Nation Address really means.

Every year, the State of the Nation Address in South Africa is riddled with conflict. February 9th was no different. President Zuma, head of the African National Congress (ANC), faced acute opposition from Members of Parliament (MPs). The ANC came to power in the post-apartheid era with the election of Nelson Mandela. Mandela defeated the white Nationalist Party, which promoted the systematic racial segregation of South Africa, by the promotion of peaceful rhetoric and protest.

Aware of the trend of challenge at the Address, President Zuma ordered 440 troops to attend Parliament to ensure security. In the past, high numbers of troops have only been issued for ceremonial roles. This ​declaration of force​ ignited anger toward the president.

The Address provides Members of Parliament (MPs) the opportunity to question the President’s credibility on a world stage. The MPs rose to the occasion with repeated objections, interruptions, and questions, seeking to diminish Mr. Zuma’s spotlight. Julius Malema, the face of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, proclaimed that President Zuma is “an incorrigible man rotten to the core.”

This year, MPs from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party dressed in red and gathered in the center of the hall as President Zuma tried to use his charisma to restore control. Security guards quickly encircled them, and the demonstration degraded into punching, dragging, and shouting as the guards removed the EFF MPs from the hall.

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Friction at the State of the Nation

Mr. Zuma is the fourth president to represent the African National Congress (ANC), which has held the majority in the post-apartheid era. The ANC party supports China’s economic expansion in South Africa and seeks to redistribute South Africa’s wealth into the hands of the poor and black majority.

However, the ANC has dropped to its lowest approval ratings yet, at just over 60 percent in the 2014 general election​. The Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s largest opposition party, just won the majority over Nelson Mandela Bay in August 2016. The area is an administrative municipality which encompasses the city Port Elizabeth and the surrounding rural area. The DA criticizes the ANC for limiting access to power for those outside its immediate ruling politicians, and thus advertises the DA’s efforts to ensure success for its hardworking citizens.

The flare-up of emotions at the State of the Nation Address indicates a flashpoint in South African politics. Although the ANC still holds the majority, the party is becoming increasingly divided. The President represents corruption and cronyism, exhibited by the government funded refurbishments to Mr. Zuma’s personal home in Nkandla. Mr. Zuma maintains the majority for now, but soon his ethical shortcomings will overshadow public opinion.

Recently, President Zuma sacked ten government workers, most notably the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan. These workers have the most information for the corruption and scandal in the Zuma administration. Mr. Zuma was afraid that his own workers were plotting against him, proof that the president is aware of rising tensions against his reign.

The ANC needs to find a candidate who can reunite Parliament for the 2019 elections; only his fellow ANC MPs can oust Mr. Zuma from the presidency. Although the ANC still represents freedom and democracy after apartheid, the regime is quickly following the corrupt and power hungry trends which plague the African continent. Africa has seen a swell in democratic inclinations in the latter half of the twentieth century, but now as many states enter into election season, their democratic legitimacy will be tested as leaders face potential loss of power.

Victoria Casarrubias studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. 

Sudanese border creation illustrates process of separating two nations.

The Sudanese Secession

In July 2011 South Sudan seceded from the Sudan in a referendum supported by almost 99% of southern Sudan’s population. Although Sudan, once Africa’s largest country, already has very distinct regional divisions (see Figure One), the two governments are tasked with officially separating the 2,400 kilometers that run between the two countries.

 Screen Shot 2017-04-24 at 7.43.35 PM In order to create an official border, the Join Border Commission (JBC) was created. The African Union Border Program (AUBP) oversees all Joint Border Commission meetings.

Currently, the two sides agree upon 80% of the border should be. This leaves 20% that has yet to be resolved. In April, the JBC will meet in Addis Ababa with hopes to complete the final meeting of the border creation process.

There are many areas that both countries lay claim to, including Abyei, an area disputed in Sudan since colonial independence.

The largest disputed area is Abyei, covering approximately 4,000 square miles (the yellow area on Figure One). Abyei lies directly on what will become the border between the two countries. The two regions have disputed Abyei since the first Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972) due to questions of its actual borders, which tribe has jurisdiction over the area, and oil reserves.

The Ngok Dinka tribe mainly occupies the region, a powerful group that provides southern Sudan with many intellectuals, academics and wealth. Another group, the Misseriya, also claim the area, although the Ngok Dinka do not validate these claims because the Misseriya only use the land for grazing purposes. Abyei was kept from voting in the July 2011 referendum due to questions over the Misseriya’s residency in the area. To date, there still has not been a vote recognized as legitimate from Abyei.

How is a border made? A Sudanese case study.

Sudan’s need to create borders between the two nations provides a case study into the political science behind border making. The creation of borders can be categorized into three distinct steps or phases: treaty or agreement making stage, delimitation, and demarcation.

The first step involves a treaty or agreement being made between two entities. This is an important step because if conflict or disagreement preceded the border making, it is necessary to ensure cooperation between the two sides for favorable outcomes.

Sudan and South Sudan officially separated in 2011; South Sudan was autonomous for many years prior (as evidenced by Figure One). This included years of civil war and unrest. There have been many attempts for peace through previous agreements signed by both regions. The official secession referendum is the newest attempt at this. There are two (of many) agreements made in September of 2012 that are pertinent to the process of border making and exemplify the treaty or agreement-making step.

The first agreement is the “Cooperation Agreement between The Republic of the Sudan and The Republic of South Sudan” (Sept. 27, 2012). This is crucial because it strives for cooperation and best practices between the two countries following years of conflict. It also provides a basis for all further negotiations between the two nations, such as border discussions.

The next is the “Agreement between The Republic of the Sudan and The Republic of South Sudan on Border Issues” (Sept. 27, 2012). This illustrates the steps for the two nations to take in order to eventually create physical borders.

The next phase to make a border is delimitation. This involves two distinct entities agreeing upon borders and putting them onto paper. Delimitation is extremely important for two entities when moving forward because any confusion about where the boundary should be makes demarcation essentially impossible, as it involves the physical marking of an agreed upon border on to the earth.

In the case of Sudan, delimitation is the job of the Joint Border Commission. Up to date, past conferences of the Joint Border Commission delimited 80% of the border. If Sudan cannot come to an agreement in this stage, they will not be able to begin the actual marking of the border on to the ground.

The uncertainty surrounding Abyei impacts this stage and makes Abyei extremely relevant. As mentioned above, Abyei has yet to have a legitimate referendum. In order for Sudan and South Sudan to finish the delimitation process, it is important that there is some type of resolution from Abyei so the area is delimited.

The existence of the JBC shows the interconnectedness of the phases of border creation. The “Agreement between The Republic of the Sudan and The Republic of South Sudan on Border Issues,” Sudan’s example of the first step, demonstrates the need for the JBC. Now, we see it come to fruition through the actual implementation of the JBC.

Finally, once two countries go through the first two steps to creating a border, they need to physically mark it on the ground. This is called demarcation. The physical marking of borders on the ground is important moving forward. If this does not happen correctly conflict or war can arise over border confusion.

Currently in Sudan, nothing is demarcated, as some parts are not even delimited yet. However, showing the importance for initial creation of treaties or other promises for cooperation, the “Agreement between The Republic of the Sudan and The Republic of South Sudan on Border Issues” lays out instructions for demarcation. They have created a Joint Demarcation Committee (JDC). The agreement also includes the plan for paying for demarcation.

Barring any roadblocks, demarcation should follow a finalized agreement of delimitation to complete the steps of border creation.

Sudan provides a case study into the three steps that influence the creation of borders and how each phase impacts the process. The secession of South Sudan will have many implications in the years to come in the Sudanese region, Africa and the world. For these purposes, it offers the world a glimpse into what it means to create a new nation and new borders.

Oriana Galasso studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

A historical perspective on the evolution of Boko Haram

“Boko Haram” roughly translates to “western education is a sin” in Hausa, the indigenous language of Nigeria. Boko Haram is also the name of one of the most deadly terrorist groups in the world.

Despite this recognizable danger and the direct opposition to Western ideology signified by its name, the US has kept its involvement in this conflict to a relative minimum. The reasoning for this has long been that Boko Haram is isolated to the northern area of Nigeria. 

However, the group has recently spread into the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. To the additional worry of the US, Boko Haram and ISIS have struck up a pretty tight alliance. This will not only give Boko Haram more resources, it also creates competition with Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Despite these outward indications of material success, Boko Haram is actually experiencing some serious inward conflicts. The main conflict centers on Abubakar Shekau and Abu Musab al-Barnawi. Shekau was confirmed as the leader of Boko Haram under the new auspices of the Islamic State West Africa Providence (ISWAP). However, on August 3, 2016, al-Barnawi was named the new leader of the ISWAP. Both leaders still cling to power, but it’s unclear as to which one has more clout among the lower-level operatives of Boko Haram. Can an examination of Islam’s development in West Africa during colonization shed some light on why this current leadership split in Boko Haram has occurred?

Essentially, the spread of Islam in West Africa can boil down to three key stages: containment, mixing, and reform. In the “containment” stage, African kings sought to segregate Muslim communities to contain the religion’s influence. In the “mixing” stage, West African communities selected the dimensions of Islam that they wanted to blend with their local communities. And, finally, in the “reform” phase, West African Muslims attempted to rid themselves of these mixed practices and strived for Shariah law, which is essentially the purest form of Islamic rule. Some oft-cited reasons for integration of Islam include economic motivations, spiritual attraction, and the necessity of Arabic literacy for state building. The final phase of “reform” is one that took full force in Nigeria, which, at that time, was known as Hausaland. Literate Muslims especially used modernizing communication and transportation infrastructure to exchange ideas, examine Islamic doctrine, and construct reforms. Despite the attempts of colonial authorities to quench any desires for Islamic reform via proxy leaders, Northern Nigerians insisted on purifying Islam and ridding it of any Western impurities.

As exemplified by Boko Haram’s chosen moniker, the group has fed off of that same insistence since the early 2000s. Abubakar Shekau, for his part, is no exception. In fact, many have called him an instrumentalist, citing his use of salafism, a sect of Sunni Islam, to advance more modernized international jihad. Even though ISIS also supports salafism, and has used the ideology to further its own territorial interests, Shekau began to implement policies that ended up doing considerable damage to Boko Haram’s credibility and recruitment potential. For example, Boko Haram began to implement a scorched-earth policy to conquer land in Northern Nigeria, which essentially entails razing entire towns and villages. Another, similarly brutal, policy is the use of children as suicide bombers.  These policies actually deprive the group of any labor or goods that could’ve otherwise been obtained. For ISIS, who originally merged with Boko Haram hoping that it could expand the caliphate and lend new territorial and rhetorical power, these trends are highly distasteful. So, a change of leadership was necessary.

When returning to the original issue at hand, it’s clear that Islam’s development in West Africa can provide some insight into why this ideological split in Boko Haram has occurred. Shekau, like the original proponents of Islam in West Africa during colonization, originally relied off of Nigerian Muslim’s distaste for modernization.

The Islamic State was willing to help Boko Haram with this mission through material and rhetorical power. However, around 2015, Shekau’s methods became more violent, leading the Islamic State to foment a change in leadership. Although no one can be sure why Shekau began to rely on more violent tactics, he has justified himself in the past by stating that anyone who refuses to participate in Jihad is a traitor to Islam. The isolating and crude nature of his more recent policies suggests that he was eager for more power and began to prioritize that over any logistical considerations.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State likely recognized that many Muslims across the world (in this case, in West Africa specifically), value tradition and want to keep Islam pure in spite of the spread of secularism.

It’s unclear what exactly are the implications of this split. However, it’s definite that the Islamic State will likely take on more power in West Africa as it is better poised to capture the interests of the people.

Natanya Schnyer studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.

What The Gambia’s Recent Transfer of Power Reveals about Politics in Africa

The Gambia has drawn the attention of the world for its recent presidential election. With former president Yahya Jammeh refusing to vacate the statehouse despite initially conceding, democratically elected Adama Barrow was forced to travel to the Gambian embassy in Senegal in order to be sworn into the office that Jammeh was unlawfully occupying.

While the international media has reported on Gambia’s new leader due to his dramatic transition to power, Barrow’s election is most important because it represents democratic progress in the Gambia. In addition, he follows a pattern of a younger generation of Africans seeking to find stability in good governance.

Out with the Old

Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994. His 22 years in power are best understood as an eccentric reign of terror. During this time he claimed he would cure AIDs with an herbal remedy and stay in power for a billion years. His actions included mass executions of prisoners, forced disappearances, and restrictions on freedom of the press.

Jammeh’s policies often favored his ethnic group, Jola, and he frequently threatened extermination of the Mandinka, the largest ethnic group in The Gambia, thus fracturing Gambian society along ethnic lines. His dedication to Jola people also served to undermine the power of other ethnic groups in order to stave off challenges to his rule.

In with the New

New president Adama Barrow represents a beacon of hope for Gambian society and an exciting step for democracy in Africa. Jammeh represents political and economic change in many African countries, which have seen a younger, more idealistic generation rising to a position of influence.

Ghanaian economist George Ayittey calls this the “Cheetah Generation.” Cheetahs are young and entrepreneurial Africans who are increasingly dissatisfied with corrupt and incompetent politicians, and have the dynamism, intellectualism, and pragmatism to improve the system. They seek transparency, accountability, and human rights. In contrast, the older Hippo generation, who Ayittey claims is stuck in a “…muddy colonialist pedagogical patch,” relies too heavily on foreign aid and is too focused on their own economic and political consolidation of power.

If Barrow is a Cheetah, then Jammeh is the Hippo. Jammeh’s desperation for power led him to refuse to step down despite prior affirmation he would if not reelected. In the few months since taking office, Barrow has set his political agenda to focus on human rights and good governance, as well as his distaste for tribalism. He said in his inaugural address, “For 22 years, the Gambian people yearned to live in a country where our diverse tribes will be bridged by tolerance and our determination to work together for the common good. One Gambia, one nation, one people.”

Barrow has already called for the release of 171 inmates who were detained without trial in Gambia’s Mile 2 prison. In addition, he has declared that The Gambia will remain a member of the International Criminal Court and has plans for constitutional and legal reforms. The significance of the rising Cheetah generation should remain a place of hope for Africa as we observe Barrow continue to fix human rights violations and progress democracy.

Transition Aided by Regional Organizations

The West African institution, ECOWAS, was a crucial force in facilitating Jammeh’s eventual flight to Equitorial Guinea (along with 11.4 million in state coffers and luxury vehicles). This regional organization’s ability to maneuver the eventual transition of power is significant for the future of democratic transitions in Africa.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which consists of 15 countries in Western Africa promoting economic integration in the region, served as a peacekeeping force during the complicated transition of power. ECOWAS support included 7000 soldiers sent to secure the transition after delegates unsuccessfully tried to persuade Jammeh in December to step down easily when the time came. This time they were successful. As a potent example of the increasing power of African institutions, ECOWAS follows the lead of the African Union (the AU also publicly declared support for Barrow) in uniting African countries and advancing democracy on the continent.

ECOWAS, and similar organizations, have the potential to increase regional integration and collective action in Africa. If run correctly, these groups could fight corruption and improve governance. ECOWAS shows how regional organizations can hold their constituents accountable in the name of democracy. Zimbabwean political activist Fadzayi Mahere expressed her wish that Zimbabwe’s ECOWAS equivalent, the Southern African Development Community, would rise in her region: “We need an ECOWAS in Southern Africa: neighbors who care and insist on the right thing being done on principle.”

“This is a victory for democracy…” declared Adama Barrow at a stadium in Gambian capital Banjul when he was finally sworn in on domestic soil. Democracy has a hopeful future in the Gambia, thanks to the eventual victory of Barrow and intervention of ECOWAS. Other African countries currently struggling for democracy should take note of both the rising Cheetah generation and ability for regional institutions to hold leaders and governments accountable.

Madeline Cook studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. 

Somalia: Can You Buy an Election?

In the Somali presidential election last February, underdog and American bureaucrat Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was declared the winner. All levels of Somali politics are corrupt and many scholars considered the outcome of this year’s parliamentary elections to be a new height of corruption in Somali politics. However, a surprise came when the results of the presidential race revealed that Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had won. Incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was widely expected to win the election, especially considering the amount of funds he had available for purchasing votes.

Clientelism is a major player in Somali politics. It is the exchange of a good or service for political support. The relationships formed through clientelism between the government and the select citizens in Africa are what drive much of the corruption. This system often keeps officials in power through bribing the elite with benefits while leaving the majority of citizens to suffer. Vote buying is an example of clientelism, which is known to hinder democracy all over Africa and especially in Somalia.

The fact that Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was able to beat out incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud who had significantly higher funds to pour into vote buying leads us to ask, how effective is vote buying?

Vote buying through cash may not have as large of an impact in elections as some think. A recent study has been published that reveals vote buying to be an ineffective practice that may enforce voters’ already formulated opinions but does little to actually change opinions.

The fact that vote buying seldom alters the opinions of voters is especially true in elections where voters have confidence in the secret ballot. In an election where voters feel confident that their vote was cast anonymously, bribes are less effective because voters know that they can both accept the cash and still vote according to their true beliefs.

It is speculated that no side was clean in this recent election, which means that bribes were coming from all candidates. With votes being sold for upwards of $30,000 each, this election is thought to be the most expensive per-vote in history. However, when a voter is presented with more than one cash bribe for their vote, this further decreases the likelihood of the bribe working. It creates a bidding war which causes a vote to become more expensive and is also less likely to be effective. This gives the voter the ability to play multiple angles in order to get more money. However, it still allows voters to vote for whichever candidate they prefer since there is little chance of tracking for whom they actually cast their ballot.

It was also found that cash bribes are far more likely to be successful if they are presented to a low-income voter. Somalia does not have direct elections; members of parliament are the only ones to cast votes in the presidential election. This makes it harder for cash bribes work because politicians are less likely to be desperate for cash than poor farmers in rural Somalia.

Often times, bribes are given to voters that would have voted for the particular candidate regardless of whether cash was involved. This skews the data of any study that did not provide a control for the already convinced voter. This creates bias in the study by overestimating the impact of vote buying in elections.

Somalis hope that the election of Farmajo will lead to a more democratic government that will have free and fair elections where all citizens can vote without clientelism hindering the process. However, if elections are opened up to all Somali citizens but are still not fair, this may pose an even greater threat to democracy because many people in Somalia are extremely impoverished and would therefore be likely to accept a bribe in exchange for their vote.

Research on vote buying shows that it is not the one stop solution to fixing the outcome of an election. Vote buying is not always successful and therefore just because a candidate has the most money does not mean they have a guaranteed path to victory.

Kayla Hostetler studies International Studies at Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.