Senegalese voters claimed one for African democracies this weekend when they voted to replace sitting president Abdoulaye Wade with his former prime minister, Macky Sall. This is the second time that Senegal has had a democratic transition of power in the last two decades. Wade came to power in 2000 after forming a second round coalition with other opposition leaders to defeat Abdou Diouf. Diouf had been in power for 19 years, but also came and went peacefully.
If anything, Senegal is an excellent example of how peaceful transition begets peaceful transition. The precedent of democratic turn-over has far reaching affects on the political culture of young democracies. In this weekend’s second round election, Sall actually ran on a platform to reduce presidential terms to 5 years and to respect the two-term limit.