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Nic Cheeseman

11 Podcast Episodes

Latest 18 Sep 2021 | Updated Daily

Weekly hand curated podcast episodes for learning

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58. China’s model is not Africa’s – Nic Cheeseman

Mind the Shift

When we hear about rigged elections in Sub-Saharan Africa, many say: ”Well, what can you expect?” The underlying assumption is that it is sad but unavoidable that democratic flaws have to be tolerated in immature and poor countries. Wrong, thinks Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the university of Birmingham, UK. All countries must be measured with the same democratic yardstick. ”Many African elections are actually more advanced than elections in Europe. British elections are very manual and old-fashioned”, says Cheeseman. Fraud and rigging is not an African problem. All the main tricks described in Cheeseman’s and Brian Klaas’ book ”How to Rig an Election” have been used in Europe and America. Some subtle ways are still used on every continent, like ”gerrymandering” and putting up high identification and registration thresholds for voters, which typically disfavors minorities, the poor and the less educated. ”In which country in the world every main party has been fined by the electoral commission for breaching campaign finance laws in the last three years? The answer is the UK”, says Cheeseman. ”It is patronizing to think that African nations can’t reach the same level of democracy as Europe has. Look at countries like Ghana, South Africa, Botswana and Mauritius.” Democracy is also what Africans want. This is what polls on the continent consistently show. It is of course true that democracy in Africa is young and still feeble in many places. Hence the idea some have that maybe electoral democracy is premature. Maybe there should be another order of events: first wealth and health, then elections. But this is also a flawed idea, according to Nic Cheeseman. There is no order of events. Democracy and development happen in tandem. ”It is not true that poor people are not able to make informed choices about their future. Look at Zambia and Benin which were very poor when they made their transition to democracy.” ”And there is no particular connection between wealth and the possibility to hold elections. If you really want to, you can hold a piece-of-paper-and-pen election extremely cheaply.” Also: holding free and fair elections and building accountability has shown to be a driving force for governments to perform better. ”If we go back to the 70s and 80s, in none of the countries that had the most benign autocrats we can imagine today, like Nyerere and Kaunda, we saw the development of thriving conditions for democracy”, says Nic Cheeseman. ”It's the curse of low expectations.” Democracy creates a stronger rule of law, which addresses corruption, which enhances economic growth, which gives rise to stronger civil society. It becomes a virtuous circle. ”The best model for the future is to see development and democracy side by side. The China model is nothing that works in Africa.” Nic’s personal website: https://profcheeseman.wordpress.com/ Nic’s site Democracy in Africa: http://democracyinafrica.org/ Nic’s profile page at the University of Birmingham: https://bit.ly/3v1yoh8 Nic’s books: https://amzn.to/3tUM9gx Nic’s Twitter handle: @Fromagehomme

55mins

19 May 2021

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Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch on the Moral Economy of Elections in Africa

Democracy Paradox

A full transcript is available at www.democracyparadox.com.It’s common for Westerners to lecture Africans about democracy. Most Africans will admit their different political systems have many problems. Money is exchanged for votes, elections are rigged, and sometimes violence even breaks out. But the challenges African countries face in the process of democratization are not absent in the rest of the world.The 2020 American Presidential Election exposed many problems in the United States. The storming of the American capital proved that even violence is possible in the world’s oldest democracy. My point here is not to disparage American democracy, but to recognize every nation has a lot to learn. Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch along with Justin Willis offer us an opportunity to consider democracy in an unfamiliar context. Their examination of Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda allow us to identity universal aspirations and ideals citizens hold in very different settings. But it’s not the differences which I believe are important. It’s their similarities. Nic, Gabrielle, and Justin are the authors of the book The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa: Democracy, Voting, and Virtue. Nic is the kind of political science rock star who gets quoted in The Economist. He is among the foremost experts on democracy in Africa, a professor of political science and democracy at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and the co-editor of the website Democracy in Africa. Gabrielle Lynch is a professor of comparative politics at the University of Warwick. I invited Nic and Gabrielle to discuss their new book, because their research is always informative, not just because it exposes us to another part of the world, but because they are able to draw connections to larger ideas from their experiences. This is a conversation about Africa. This is a conversation about democracy. This is my conversation with Nic Cheeseman and Gabrielle Lynch…Music from Apes of the State.Key Contentwww.democracyinafrica.orgGhana: The Ebbing Power of IncumbencyThe Moral Economy of Elections in AfricaRelated ContentWinston Mano on Social Media and Politics in Africa... And what America can Learn from Africa about DemocracyThomas Carothers and Andrew O'Donohue are Worried About Severe PolarizationThoughts on Brian Klaas and Nic Cheeseman's How to Rig an Election

45mins

23 Feb 2021

Similar People

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Worlds Apart: Demo democracy? Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham

RT

It’s hard to find a more loaded subject in governance and international relations than democracy. On the national level, it’s supposed to be a safe way of ensuring that governments are accessible and responsive to the people. Yet, internationally, it can be a major source of insecurity, and one that’s driven by the maneuverings of foreign powers. Is it possible to decouple domestic governance from geopolitical games? To discuss this, Oksana is joined by Nic Cheeseman, Professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham, in the UK, and co-author of ‘How to Rig an Election’.

29mins

20 Sep 2020

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We Need to Work at Making Democracy Work with Professor Nic Cheeseman

Charter Cities Podcast

Tocqueville said, “We need to work at making democracy work.” That is the springboard from which this episode begins. Kurtis Lockhart fills in for Mark Lutter as today’s host, and our guest is Professor Nic Cheeseman. Nic is a political scientist at the University of Birmingham, and was formerly the head of the African Studies Center at Oxford University. His research focuses on a range of topics, from democracy and elections, to development and institutional change, all of which we will discuss in this episode. Nic is the author or editor of ten books on African Politics, including Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures, and the Struggle for Political Reform and How to Rig an Election. Nic shares with us some of the projects he is working on, and we discuss anti-corruption messaging, foreign aid, China in Africa, and redrawing African countries’ borders, as well as invisible election rigging, “sweet spot” strategies, and counterfeit democrats. Tune in today!Key Points From This Episode:•   Nic shares the projects that he is working on, including one on elections and COVID.•   Anti-corruption messaging, corruption fatigue, and the need to change incentive structures.•   The value of redesigning messages rather than reinforcing the scale of the problem.•   Nic’s concerns about the Department for International Development being merged into the foreign office body.•   The only thing Nic thinks will counter the significance of China in Africa is bigger investment.•   Nic’s thoughts on foreign aid serving geopolitical concerns or power competitions.•   What Nic thinks the international development community should prioritize – do less, better.•   How Tocqueville’s writings on democracy have helped shape some of Nic’s thinking.•   Why Nic believes that Jeffrey Herbst’s suggestion to redraw borders in Africa is unfeasible.•   What Nic is interested in about cities, and his views on urbanization, and urban or rural bias.•   What has made Lagos such a successful city and how other African cities can follow suit.•   Why invisible election rigging is one of the biggest challenges to contemporary democracy.•   Sweet spot strategies include gerrymandering, the exclusion of a rival candidate, and so-called subtle violence or intimidation.•   Nic is worried that other governments will learn subtle intimidation and use it to win elections.•   Going from high-level thinking about institutions to actual on-the-ground implementation when one constantly has to worry about “counterfeits.”•   Democracy in Africa’s collaboration with The Continent, a free newspaper in partnership with The Mail & Guardian, South Africa.Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:Prof. Nic Cheeseman on TwitterProf. Nic Cheeseman on LinkedInProf. Nic CheesemanDemocracy in Africa on TwitterDemocracy in AfricaDemocracy in AfricaHow to Rig an ElectionThe Moral Economy of Elections in AfricaDepartment for International DevelopmentRegional and British International Development PolicyRural DemocracyThe Continent by Mail & GuardianThe Resistance Bureau Podcast

1hr 13mins

24 Aug 2020

Most Popular

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Ep88. A talk with Nic Cheeseman about his latest book, Uganda, and much more

Ufahamu Africa

On this week's news update, Kim and Rachel discuss Nigeria's first Coronavirus patient, the downward trend of Ebola, and elections in Cote d'Ivoire.At the African Studies Association Annual Meeting in Boston this past fall, Kim met with Nic Cheeseman (@Fromagehomme) to discuss his latest book and other topics, such as presidential succession in Uganda. Nic is a professor of democracy and international development at the University of Birmingham, and he was the former African Studies Centre Director for Oxford University.He specializes in elections and democracy, doing field work in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Ghana, just to name a few. A frequent commentator on global issues regarding Africa, Nic's words have appeared in Foreign Policy, the New York Times, and many other renowned publications. … More Ep88. A talk with Nic Cheeseman about his latest book, Uganda, and much more

51mins

10 Mar 2020

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Lecture: Nic Cheeseman on how to rig an election (and get away with it)

Global Development Institute podcast

Contrary to what is commonly believed, authoritarian leaders who agree to hold elections are generally able to remain in power longer than autocrats who refuse to allow the populace to vote.Calling upon first-hand experiences, hundreds of interviews and election reports from Kenya, India, Nigeria, Russia, the United States, Zimbabwe and more, Professor Cheeseman discusses the limitations of national elections as a means of promoting democratisation, revealing the six essential strategies that dictators use to undermine the electoral process in an attempt to guarantee victory. How to Rig an Election has been described as “essential reading for everyone who wants to get democracy right again” by A.C. Grayling, “clear, punchy and potentially revolutionary” by Michela Wrong and the “one of the books of the year” by the Centre for Global Development.

58mins

15 Oct 2018

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"How To Rig An Election": Professor Nic Cheeseman

ROCKING OUR PRIORS

Authoritarian leaders who hold elections actually stay in power longer than those who don't. Democracy thus facilitates dictatorships, in a sense.Why is this? How do they get away with it?And what could prevent these counterfeit democracies?In this podcast, Professor Nic Cheeseman discusses his brilliant new book (co-authored with Dr. Brian Klaas).Curious? Check out the book: https://yalebooks.yale.edu/book/9780300204438/how-rig-election

33mins

26 Apr 2018

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Nic Cheeseman, “Institutions and Democracy in Africa” (Cambridge UP, 2018)

New Books in Political Science

In Institutions and Democracy in Africa: How the Rules of the Game Shape Political Developments (Cambridge University Press, 2018), the contributors challenge the argument that African states lack effective political institutions as these have been undermined by neo-patrimonialism and clientelism. Scholars such as Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz have argued that Africa’s political culture is inherently different from the West and that African political system is actually working through what they term “instrumentalization of disorder.” While acknowledging some of the contributions that Chabal and Daloz have made to the understanding of Africa institutions, the contributions in this volume challenge this notion that political life in Africa is shaped primarily by social customs and not by formal rules. The contributions examine formal institutions such as the legislature, judiciary, and political parties and they show the impact of these institutions on socio-political and economic developments in the continent. Their contributions show that political and institutional developments vary across the continent and African states should not be treated as if they are the same. They argue that informal institutions have helped to shape and strengthen formal institutions. The authors of the different chapters are cutting-edge scholars in the field and they make a clear and convincing argument that formal institutions matter and that it is impossible to understand Africa without taking into consideration the roles played by these institutions.The book is edited by Nic Cheeseman. He is a professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and was formerly Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He is the recipient of the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). He is also the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures and the Struggle for Political Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2015), the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politic, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel. Bekeh Utietiang Ukelina is an Assistant Professor of History at SUNY, Cortland. His research examines the ideologies and practices of development in Africa, south of the Sahara. He is the author of The Second Colonial Occupation: Development Planning, Agriculture, and the Legacies of British Rule in Nigeria. For more NBN interviews, follow him on Twitter @bekeh or head to bekeh.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/political-science

36mins

12 Mar 2018

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Nic Cheeseman, “Institutions and Democracy in Africa” (Cambridge UP, 2018)

New Books in Public Policy

In Institutions and Democracy in Africa: How the Rules of the Game Shape Political Developments (Cambridge University Press, 2018), the contributors challenge the argument that African states lack effective political institutions as these have been undermined by neo-patrimonialism and clientelism. Scholars such as Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz have argued that Africa’s political culture is inherently different from the West and that African political system is actually working through what they term “instrumentalization of disorder.” While acknowledging some of the contributions that Chabal and Daloz have made to the understanding of Africa institutions, the contributions in this volume challenge this notion that political life in Africa is shaped primarily by social customs and not by formal rules. The contributions examine formal institutions such as the legislature, judiciary, and political parties and they show the impact of these institutions on socio-political and economic developments in the continent. Their contributions show that political and institutional developments vary across the continent and African states should not be treated as if they are the same. They argue that informal institutions have helped to shape and strengthen formal institutions. The authors of the different chapters are cutting-edge scholars in the field and they make a clear and convincing argument that formal institutions matter and that it is impossible to understand Africa without taking into consideration the roles played by these institutions.The book is edited by Nic Cheeseman. He is a professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and was formerly Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He is the recipient of the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). He is also the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures and the Struggle for Political Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2015), the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politic, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel. Bekeh Utietiang Ukelina is an Assistant Professor of History at SUNY, Cortland. His research examines the ideologies and practices of development in Africa, south of the Sahara. He is the author of The Second Colonial Occupation: Development Planning, Agriculture, and the Legacies of British Rule in Nigeria. For more NBN interviews, follow him on Twitter @bekeh or head to bekeh.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/public-policy

36mins

12 Mar 2018

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Nic Cheeseman, “Institutions and Democracy in Africa” (Cambridge UP, 2018)

New Books in Law

In Institutions and Democracy in Africa: How the Rules of the Game Shape Political Developments (Cambridge University Press, 2018), the contributors challenge the argument that African states lack effective political institutions as these have been undermined by neo-patrimonialism and clientelism. Scholars such as Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz have argued that Africa’s political culture is inherently different from the West and that African political system is actually working through what they term “instrumentalization of disorder.” While acknowledging some of the contributions that Chabal and Daloz have made to the understanding of Africa institutions, the contributions in this volume challenge this notion that political life in Africa is shaped primarily by social customs and not by formal rules. The contributions examine formal institutions such as the legislature, judiciary, and political parties and they show the impact of these institutions on socio-political and economic developments in the continent. Their contributions show that political and institutional developments vary across the continent and African states should not be treated as if they are the same. They argue that informal institutions have helped to shape and strengthen formal institutions. The authors of the different chapters are cutting-edge scholars in the field and they make a clear and convincing argument that formal institutions matter and that it is impossible to understand Africa without taking into consideration the roles played by these institutions.The book is edited by Nic Cheeseman. He is a professor of Democracy at the University of Birmingham and was formerly Director of the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He is the recipient of the GIGA award for the best article in Comparative Area Studies (2013) and the Frank Cass Award for the best article in Democratization (2015). He is also the author of Democracy in Africa: Successes, Failures and the Struggle for Political Reform (Cambridge University Press, 2015), the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politic, a former editor of the journal African Affairs, and an advisor to, and writer for, Kofi Annan’s African Progress Panel. Bekeh Utietiang Ukelina is an Assistant Professor of History at SUNY, Cortland. His research examines the ideologies and practices of development in Africa, south of the Sahara. He is the author of The Second Colonial Occupation: Development Planning, Agriculture, and the Legacies of British Rule in Nigeria. For more NBN interviews, follow him on Twitter @bekeh or head to bekeh.com. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoicesSupport our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/law

36mins

12 Mar 2018

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