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Variables Influencing the Re-election of District Councilors in Rwanda
Article Number: DRJA738624905
Original Research Article
Rwanda Association of Local Government Authorities (RALGA), Kigali, Rwanda.
Author E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: November 3, 2018 Accepted: December 6, 2018 Published: December 18, 2018
This paper is a result of a study which aimed to examine the variables influencing the re-election of local leaders in Rwanda. It specifically sought to ascertain the extent to which voters hold local elected leaders accountable for their performances while in office. The purpose of this paper was also to deepen and explore major challenges hindering the level of responsiveness of local elected councilors to the rights and needs of voters in the process to their re-elections. The study on which the current paper is based was conducted in the Musanze District, in Northern Province of Rwanda and the data for the investigation were collected using document analysis, interviews and Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). The study found out that generally, when the incumbent is running, evaluations provide more useful information to voters and guide them deciding how they will vote and that retrospective evaluations provide insights into the job done by elected District councilors in order for voters to return the incumbents to office or not. As it could be difficult to explore all areas that shape local leaders performance, enabling a better assessment of incumbent competence in a single study, this paper focused on variables that matter for the wellbeing of citizens. These variables include among others the economy, governance, living environment housing, education, social welfare, health and sanitation. The findings suggested that in Rwanda in general and in the Musanze District in particular, elections were the main instrument through which voters could hold District Councilors accountable and make sense of outcomes they observe when deciding whether or not to re-elect the incumbent. The results suggest that voters are using information about services rendered to finally re-elect good incumbents and punish those who were believed to be incompetent or ineffective. The paper argued that if an incumbent performed well voters became more likely to vote for them and less likely to do so if the incumbent performed poorly. The paper concluded that voters base their votes on their perceptions of the past performance of elected District Councilors while they were in the race.
Keywords: Local leaders, accountability, election, re-election, performance