Presidential Elections in Liberia

Jan. 19, 2018 Weekly Graphs

On January 22, the former football star George Weah is inaugurated as Liberia’s new president. Before, the FIFA World Player of the Year 1995 had defeated vice president Joseph Boakai in the second round of the presidential elections on December 26, 2017. This week’s graph examines the country’s state of democracy since 1900 to see which ‘starting grid’ the new coach of ‘team Liberia’ faces!

V-Dem’s Electoral Democracy Index captures the democratic core value of making rulers responsive to citizens through competitive elections. These do not only have to be clean and fair in themselves. To be meaningful, they must also be undergirded by universal suffrage, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and ultimately affect the composition of the chief executive – all of which is taken into account by the index. Higher values signify that a country approaches this democratic ideal to a greater extent. 

The graph shows that democracy was in a poor state throughout most of Liberia’s history. Nevertheless, at first the country performed better than the West African average, reflecting the fact that it had already gained independence in 1847 – as an artificially created state for freed American slaves. The ups and downs since the 1980’s mark Samuel Doe’s coup in 1980, followed by two civil wars (1989-1996, 1997-2003). With the peaceful election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005, Liberia finally entered the realm of democracy.

If you want to learn more about post-civil war Liberia, use our online analysis tools at

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