For democracies, young and old, elections are a threefold test of institutional capacity and political inclination. The first is the state's ability to conduct a fair vote, free of violence. The second is the losers' disposition to accept the outcome and extent to which they embrace the role of a responsible opposition. And the third is the winners' willingness to incorporate the aspirations of all, and not just those who voted for them, in their governing agenda.
Nigeria's general election, the world's largest this year, has come through the first of these tests with little distinction and much doubt. The vote last Saturday was marred by logistical and technological failures, earning the Independent National Electoral Commission the reproach of international observers and the wrath of opposition parties. There are accusations of voter suppression and vote manipulation, and at least one of the losers will contest the outcome in the courts. There are fears of violence in the days ahead.