A Week of Election Discussions at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights: South African and Indian Elections

Judge Rogers

In the week of 20 May 2024, the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights hosted two events on the significant upcoming elections in South Africa and India. The first, organised by the Bonavero Discussion Group, was based on three judgments of the South African Constitutional Court relating to the Electoral Act. Those judgments concern whether and how that Act is required by the Constitution to provide for independent candidates to run for office. Justice Owen Rogers of the Constitutional Court presented his thoughts on these judgments and the challenges they pose in practice, with passionate comments from discussant Sfiso Nxumalo, DPhil in Law candidate. Both Justice Rogers and Sfiso paid particular attention to the considerable use of international and foreign law in some of these judgments. Their presentations were followed by a lively discussion amongst the attendees, moderated by Professor Kate O’Regan. The discussion concerned questions of potentially conflicting provisions of the Constitution, the role of its founding values in evaluating the discussed judgments, the capacity of courts to resolve the relevant issues, and the envisaged structure of South Africa’s political landscape. The event was recorded and can be watched here.


Tarunabh Khaitan

The second event, hosted by the Law and Democracy Network, focused on Indian elections and political parties. This forum, dedicated to contemporary issues in law and democracy, particularly in the Global South, is convened by Dr. Moiz Tundawala and Rupavardhini Balakrishnan Raju. Moderated by Professor Kate O'Regan, the event featured Professor Tarun Khaitan from LSE and Professor Shruti Kapila from the University of Cambridge. The speakers discussed the then ongoing Indian elections and offered a historical and constitutional perspective on the role of political parties in Indian democracy. The conversation centred on the challenges to electoral democracy and integrity such as the independence of the Election Commission of India and the enforcement of electoral law, mechanisms for safeguarding democratic processes, the problems with election funding, and the role of courts. The presentations were followed by a lively discussion that illuminated the complexity and challenges of ensuring fair and transparent elections in India and the implications of the current polls for the future of Indian democracy and constitutionalism.


Shruti Kapila