Rwandan electoral law on legislature’s composition: An instance of stealth authoritarianism
MetadataShow full item record
In Rwanda, a multiparty system and pluralistic democracy are Constitutionally recognised. In fact, since the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994, the country has held four multiparty legislative elections. Yet, all the four elections have resulted in overwhelming victories for the ruling and dominant party, Rwanda Patriotic Front. Curious of such phenomenon, this research critically examines the Organic Law Governing Elections of 2019 (as a suspicious ground for electoral authoritarianism) with a focus on three sections of the law: Section 89, 90, and 79 which provide for the electoral threshold of five percent and single nationwide constituency with a closed-list PR, respectively. The aim of the analysis is to establish whether the three sections embody subtle forms of electoral authoritarian controls and whether they deprive the legislative elections of their democratic substance. The study finds that the electoral law through specified sections of the organic law encompasses and advances some form of electoral authoritarianism. Therefore, concluding that the admittance of opposition parties and independent candidates to the electoral arena is simply meant to serve as a democratic façade for legitimacy purposes and a formality to fulfill the principle of political opposition while at the same time favouring and giving a decisive edge to the ruling political party hence entrenching its power monopoly. The study adopts a well explored theory of electoral authoritarianism as its framework to understanding the Rwandan PR. It concludes by recommending some electoral reforms that might help in democratising and liberalising elections in Rwanda and to also have a proportional representative chamber of deputies.