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Jeremy Youde, ‘HIV/AIDS and Democratic Legitimacy and Stability in Africa’, in Robert L. Ostergard, Jr, ed., HIV/AIDS and the Threat to National and International Security, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, pp. 197-222.
There is an inexorable link between issues of health and political legitimacy and stability. In Africa, AIDS clearly demonstrates the reality of this connection. HIV/AIDS poses a serious potential threat to the democratic stability and legitimacy in sub-Saharan Africa for three reasons. First, burdensome voter registration requirements and the loss of skilled, nonpartisan bureaucrats to supervise elections threaten the impartial administration of elections and make electoral fraud more likely. Second, the likely eceonomic depreciation from HIV/AIDS further imperils the chances of successful democratisation. Third, since young people and the educated and professional classes have borne the brunt of the disease thus far, their deaths impinge on the development of a vibrant civil society which can not only agitate for democratisation, but also keep the government in check. The unique confluence of these three factors make the impact of HIV/AIDS larger than any previously faced.
The research in this chapter focuses on five countries in sub-Saharan Africa: Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. These countries have five of the six highest infection rates in Africa, and all five are at least nominally democratic. Therefore, these countries allow us to explore the impact of HIV/AIDS in those countries most likely to have their democratic stability and legitimacy challenged, and can act as bellwethers for countries that have not yet experienced severe AIDS epidemics.
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