Democratic Experiments in Africa
Between 1989 and 1994, 41 out of 47 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa underwent significant political reform, including in many cases the first competitive elections in a generation. How can this wave of political liberalization be explained? Why did some countries complete a democratic transition, while others could not sustain more than limited political reform and others still suffered authoritarian reversals? What are the long term prospects for democracy in Africa? This study constitutes the first comprehensive analysis of democratic transitions in Sub-Saharan Africa. Using an original data set they assembled, the authors demonstrate that economic and international forces often provided the context in which political liberalization occurred, but cannot by themselves explain the observed outcomes. Instead, the authors develop a political-institutional theoretical framework in which the distinctive political traditions of Africa's neopatrimonial states are shown to have powerfully shaped the regime transitions.
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