FEATURE11 May 2020

Fair vote share?

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Features Impact Middle East and Africa Public Sector UK

Work to understand electoral manipulation and vote rigging in African democracies was awarded the 2019 MRS President’s Medal and is helping to inform interventions and direct resources to areas most in need. 


In December 2007, Kenyans went to the polls for their presidential election. The opposition leader had been expected to win – he was placed ahead of the incumbent president in every opinion poll bar one – but the ruling party was declared the winner.

The disputed result partly triggered a wave of post-election violence that led to the deaths of more than 1, 000 people. Political scientist Professor Nic Cheeseman was in Kenya at the time.

“Being there and seeing the hopes of the election and the destruction after the election, and what it did to the country, made me realise the power and transformative potential of elections, but also the risk if they go wrong, ” he says.

Since then, Cheeseman has been working on elections, researching how they can be manipulated by governments to retain power, and how democracies can be strengthened.

In his latest project – alongside colleagues Gabrielle Lynch, Justin Willis and Susan Dodsworth – focusing ...