Stef Vandeginste
Discussion paper 2021.04

Unlike the 2015 elections, Burundi’s 2020 general elections did not plunge the country into chaos. They rather illustrate how elections can be used for authoritarian consolidation. As expected, they enhanced the ruling party’s control on the state, thus consolidating a decade of gradual return towards a de facto single-party regime. A closer look at the elections sheds light on some important political governance developments and challenges. Despite the sudden death of outgoing president Nkurunziza, the elections allowed for an orderly succession at the level of the presidency. The ruling party leadership, a group of generals with a shared maquis experience, left the shadows and is now at the front scene of the state institutions. Both the electoral commission and the constitutional court, the main institutions in charge of organizing the elections and of electoral dispute settlement, were perceived as serving the interests of the ruling party. Opposition party CNL has been able to mobilize large crowds of supporters from diverse backgrounds. It contested the electoral results through the institutional channels and now faces the challenge of taking up its role as parliamentary opposition.


Burundi – elections – governance – political parties – CNDD-FDD - CNL