Electoral crossroads: dilemmas of future democratisation in Somalia

As Somalia begins preparations for one-person one-vote elections in 2020-21, election planners will need to consider a number of dilemmas.

This Saferworld paper, Electoral Crossroads: dilemmas of future democratisation in Somalia, identifies key issues that the Somali Federal Government, the National Independent Electoral Commission and international donors need to address. The report draws on the historical experiences of Somalia, Somaliland and Puntland, together with analysis of popular perceptions and a review of academic research.

It presents five specific dilemmas to consider. If Somalia can navigate these problems successfully, it would facilitate the popular elections that the Somali population is increasingly demanding.

These dilemmas centre upon pursuing nationally versus locally-driven democratisation, how best to “lift the lid” on the ‘4.5’ clan power sharing arrangement without sacrificing hard-won political stability, instituting soft versus hard deadlines, getting the timing of elections right in a conflict-affected country and the need to balance financial outlays for elections with the tangible benefits of democratisation.

Saferworld offers this research as a contribution to guide elections planning to enable peaceful, timely and democratic elections that truly meet popular needs.

Read more about our work in Somalia and Somaliland.