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The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments

Elites and Institutions

Edited by Leonardo A. Villalón and Peter VonDoepp

Publication Year: 2005

Does Western-style democracy make sense in the various geographic, economic, and social settings of the continent? How far toward democracy have recent liberalization movements gone? In The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments, Leonardo A. Villalón, Peter VonDoepp, and an international group of contributors consider the aftermath, success, failure, and future of the wave of democracy that swept Africa in the early 1990s. In some countries, democratic movements flourished, while in others, democratic success was more circumscribed. This detailed analysis of key political events in countries at the forefront of democratic change -- Benin, Central African Republic, Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, and Zambia -- provides for broadly representative continental and linguistic coverage of directions and prospects for Africa's democracies.

The contributors are Michael Chege, John F. Clark, Joshua B. Forrest, Abdourahmane Idrissa, Bruce Magnusson, Carrie Manning, Richard R. Marcus, Andreas Mehler, David J. Simon, Leonardo A. Villalón, and Peter VonDoepp.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-11

The character of African politics changed substantially in the early 1990s. Reflecting the combination of international and domestic pressures for change, familiar political tendencies began to wither as novel movements and processes reshaped and reconfigured African political systems. One of the most visible manifestations of these changes was a wave of apparent democratic transitions on the continent....

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1. Elites, Institutions, and the Varied Trajectories of Africa’s Third Wave Democracies

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pp. 1-26

In the early 1990s, Africa was swept by an apparent wave of democratization that generated dramatic changes in the political map of the continent. Pressed by novel international demands for “good governance,” and confronted by newly emboldened domestic voices for change, regimes in virtually every African country were forced to undertake political reforms in the name of democracy. From the...

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2. Repetitive Breakdowns and a Decade of Experimentation: Institutional Choices and Unstable Democracy in Niger

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pp. 27-48

In contrast to most other African countries, Niger never enjoyed even the brief mirage of a multiparty democracy before the 1990s. In spite of an intense party competition within the colonial context in the 1950s, under the regime of Hamani Diori the consolidation of single-party rule and the personalization of power had already begun—with French collusion—even before independence in 1960 (Charlick...

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3. The Tribulations of a Successful Transition: Institutional Dynamics and Elite Rivalry in Mali

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pp. 49-74

Of the cases discussed in this book, Mali is among the countries that have most frequently been identified as democratic success stories. In a broad study of politics in Francophone Africa, for example, Victor Le Vine (2004) has included Mali as one of the rare “unqualified examples of successful democratic transitions.” In many ways this qualification is well merited; based on a number of important dimensions...

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4. Democratic Legitimacy in Benin: Institutions and Identity in a Regional Context

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pp. 75-95

According to the usual indicators of democratic success, Benin was not a good democratic prospect. It has, nevertheless, defied the odds since 1990. As a case, then, Benin presents us with some analytical problems. Because it violates most of the predictors of democratic transition as well as of survival, we could be tempted to dismiss it as an interesting anomaly. Yet, the consistency with which the Benin...

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5. The Collapse of the Democratic Experiment in the Republic of Congo: A Thick Description

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pp. 96-125

The Congolese experiment with multiparty democracy that began in 1991 was ended in 1997 by willful human agents, who certainly understood that their actions would likely terminate the ongoing experiment.1 On June 5, 1997, in the midst of a presidential election campaign for a contest then scheduled for late July, Congolese President Pascal Lissouba dispatched a unit of the army forces to the Mpila...

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6. The Shaky Foundations, Adverse Circumstances, and Limited Achievements of Democratic Transition in the Central African Republic

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pp. 126-152

This chapter deals with the difficulties of reforming a neopatrimonial regime within the context of high levels of inter-elite distrust and political militarization. In 1993, the Central African Republic (CAR) obtained the distinction of having undergone a “successful” democratic transition. From that period to 2002, democracy survived (barely) in an environment punctuated by high levels of instability,...

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7. The Fate of Madagascar’s Democracy: Following the Rules while Eroding the Substance

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pp. 153-174

By the mid-1990s, Madagascar had joined the ranks of those African countries deemed “democratic” by the international community because, as the U.S. Department of State said, it “completed its transition from 16 years of authoritarian Socialist rule with the free and fair election of Albert Zafy as president in 1993” (1997, 1). This view was held up until December 2001, when the country held its...

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8. Institutions, Resources,and Elite Strategies: Making Sense of Malawi’s Democratic Trajectory

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pp. 175-198

In his 1998 discussion of democratic consolidation, Andreas Schedler argues that the demise of nascent democratic regimes can result from two distinct processes. The first is described as “quick death,” meaning the rapid breakdown of democratic institutions via collapses of civil peace and/or sudden returns to authoritarian rule. The second is a more subtle process of “slow death,” whereby...

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9. Democracy Unrealized: Zambia’s Third Republic under Frederick Chiluba

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pp. 199-220

When Frederick Chiluba defeated Kenneth Kaunda in a competitive, multiparty presidential election in Zambia in 1991, hopes for democracy in Africa were high (e.g., van Donge 1995; Joseph 1992). Kaunda and his United National Independence Party (UNIP) had been in power for twenty-seven years, much of that time as the sole legal political party in Zambia. Chiluba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) suggested...

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10. Assessing Adaptation to Democratic Politics in Mozambique: The Case of Frelimo

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pp. 221-245

This chapter examines Mozambique’s postwar democratization process from 1992 to 2003, with a focus on the dynamics within the country’s dominant party, Frelimo, and the party system more generally. Analyses of recent democratic breakthroughs in longtime, single-party-dominant regimes elsewhere suggest that changes within dominant parties can help to generate important transformations...

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11. Democratization in a Divided Urban Political Culture: Guinea-Bissau

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pp. 246-266

The West African coastal nation of Guinea-Bissau, a proud lusophone mini-state wedged defiantly in between Francophone Senegal and the Republic of Guinea, shares with Mozambique and Angola the distinction within Africa of having fought a bloody nationalist war (1962–74) to wrest free from the colonial grip of Portugal’s dying Salazarist empire. But Guinea-Bissau’s postcolonial prelude to democratic transition...

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12. Democratic Governance in Africa at the Start of the Twenty-first Century: Lessons of Experience

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pp. 267-289

There has been a long debate on whether the standards of democratic governance ought to be based on procedural criteria (such as the quality of competitive elections, openness of access to public office, voter turnout, etc.) or on the achievements of substantive political goals (like personal liberty and the rule of law [Zakaria 2003]). Inside the democratizing states, progress on both fronts is often...


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pp. 291-311


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pp. 313-315


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pp. 317-324

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003119
E-ISBN-10: 0253003113
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253345752

Page Count: 336
Illustrations: 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2005