Despite Mugabe, Democracy Is Gaining in Zimbabwe
Number of 'free' sub-Saharan nations up; grass-roots efforts continue
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2008 1:42 PM CDT
A man walks past an advertising billboard by pressure group Zimbabwe Democracy Now in Musina, on South Africa, Monday April 7, 2008.    (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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(Newser) – Undemocratic though the situation might seem, the fact that the opposition has forced a presidential run-off in Zimbabwe is a sign of democracy's spread in sub-Saharan Africa, the Wall Street Journal reports, where the number of "free" countries has reached 11 of 48, up from 3 in 1977. "Democratic change is coming to the forefront faster than institutional change," a Zimbabwean opposition leader says.

Democracy advocates, who routinely place themselves in peril, are key to legitimate voting. After success in Sierra Leone last year, an independent election-monitoring group was able to provide a reliable, independent vote tally in Zimbabwe's March balloting. "It is very difficult for any dictator or any incumbent to falsify the results of an election and just get away with it," one advocate says.