For us, Parliament is a Tool for Liberation

Published in London, Palgrave, 2017

Recommended citation: Wilson, A. (2017). " For us, Parliament is a Tool for Liberation': Elections as an Opportunity for a Transterritorial Sahrawi population " In Ojeda, R., Fernández-Molina, I. and Veguilla, V. (eds) Global, Regional and Local Dimensions of Western Sahara's Protracted Decolonization: When a Conflict Gets Old (London, Palgrave). .

Elections are important tools not only of governance but also of nation-building and international diplomacy. This chapter examines how elections can be adapted for such goals in the absence of a conventional nation-state setting. The Polisario Front liberation movement for Western Sahara organizes elections in which Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, as well as Sahrawis living in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara and the Sahrawi diaspora, can vote to elect a range officers. Drawing on anthropological approaches to elections as cultural and moral events, this chapter examines some wider effects of these elections. Sahrawi voters imagine themselves and act as a transterritorial community of nationalists. The structuring of electoral constituencies projects an idealized vision of the Sahrawi body politic. Holding elections facilitates connections with local, national and international audiences. Sahrawis’ frequent rehearsals of their existence as a national electorate may reinforce their expectations of popular consultation in any solution to the conflict.