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3.25.2012

A Victory for Term Limits in Senegal

President Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat in today's runoff election in Senegal. He called his rival, former Prime Minister Macky Sall. Wade's manipulation of the constitution, which we've previously commented on here, had led to deadly protests in Dakar over the past two months. His defeat is a victory for constitutional democracy, and for term limits in a region where they have been under some attack. It is also welcome news in light of the coup in Mali that has led to ongoing disorder.

The story of Wade's loss is an interesting example of uncertainty in institutional design. In earlier constitutional amendments, Wade had extended subsequent presidential terms to seven years, beginning with this election. Now his rival will hold the office for that comparatively long period. What is good for the proverbial goose is good for the gander.

Perhaps sensing that he was doomed to defeat, Wade had recently proposed serving only four years of the seven-year term "to complete his work." (Co-authors and I had proposed the idea of reducing term size in second and third terms in a paper on term limits last year.)

-TG

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