Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

2023’s most important election isn't where you think

By Howard W. French

06 Jan 2023 · 8 min read

Editor's Note

The world's eyes should be trained on Nigeria's presidential election this February, argues Foreign Policy, because the country is at the center of Africa's massive demographic transition.

In 2023, the list of national elections around the world stretches so long that the countries that will hold them, from Andorra to Zimbabwe, almost flirt with covering the alphabet. None of them are major Western nations, giant economies, or geopolitical heavyweights. But even if some of them were, my choice for next year’s most important election would probably stay the same.

The vote that stands out for me—and not just for this year but perhaps for many years to come—may surprise readers because it will be held in a country that few spend much time thinking about. It is the presidential contest set for late February in Nigeria. Readers of most international news coverage have been deeply conditioned over the years not to see the affairs of the African continent as being of any transcendent importance to their lives, and most of what is sometimes called the mainstream media in the West doesn’t even have correspondents based in Nigeria.

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