Browsing by Author "Hofmeyr, Jan Hendrik"
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- ItemForeign observers in South African elections : an assessment of their contributions(Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2000-03) Hofmeyr, Jan Hendrik; Kotze, H. J.; Stellenbosch University. Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. Dept. of Political Science.ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Over the past three decades the practice of international election observation has shifted its focus from elections taking place within a decolonialisation context, to those in independent, but formerly undemocratic, states. The latter accepted the presence of international observers with some reservation, citing the contention that observation amounted to an infringement on national sovereignty. The demise of the former East Block, however, established the primacy of the liberal democratic ideology in world politics, leaving these states with a limited choice between democratisation and isolation. Pro-democracy supporters in former authoritarian countries embraced the change in ideological climate. Realising the lack of capacity and trust to run elections by themselves, they generally supported the presence of international observers in elections of states emerging from prolonged periods of authoritarianism. Over the past decade this affinity with international missions has been transformed into skepticism. Three primary reasons for this disenchantment have been the apparent lack of electoral standards, uncoordinated observer missions and failure to convince voters of their impartiality. This assignment represents a scholarly attempt to evaluate the contributions of international election observers to South African elections. On a theoretical level it addresses the three criticisms against foreign observation. Drawing on the vast body of international literature, the author suggests three countermeasures. These suggestions, aimed at enhancing the contributions of international observer consist of: 1) a greater consideration for the political context within which an election takes place; 2) the pooling of international observer capacity and 3) more scope to, and cooperation with, local observer groups. Each of these measures is transferred to the South African electoral reality to establish the extent of their application in this practical context. With regard to the first proposal the author finds that clear consideration has been given to contextual factors in both elections. An assessment of the quality of coordination of international observer groups also indicates that the practice of pooling resources have been employed with success by a number of missions. In this field the U.N. played a leading role. Cooperation between international observers and their local counterparts is however an aspect that has been lagging behind. The opportunity for capacity building, a significant benefit of such cooperation, has therefore to a large extent been lost. In the light of this, and the uncertainty of future international involvement, the author asserts that in future South Africans will increasingly be dependent on the cultivation of homegrown capacity. He therefore believes that initiatives such as the creation of the SADC Electoral Forum in 1998 are commendable and should be encouraged.