Elections are often considered a panacea for conflict-ridden countries. International donors, eager to spread the wings of democracy, frequently assist post-conflict countries only if the recipient countries agree to hold elections immediately following war. Recent studies, however, cast doubt on these democratization plans, showing empirically that countries with post-conflict elections are more likely to return to violence than countries which hold elections many years after conflict has ended. Some scholars, activists and government officials have used these studies and recent events to predict the aftermath of Sudan’s 2010 election, arguing that the international community made a mistake when it encouraged warring parties in Sudan to hold elections so quickly. While these prognosticators may prove to be right, the debate over the efficacy of holding a post-conflict election in Sudan is more nuanced than it appears. This paper explores Sudan’s electoral system, history and current political structure to demonstrate that while the potential for post-election conflict in Sudan is real, the success and failure of strategies to address it are often more contextual, nuanced and, at times, counter-intuitive than a traditional Western democracy proponent might think.
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