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Authoritarian Origins of Democratic Party Systems in Africa

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  • Date Published: February 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107045040

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  • Why have seemingly similar African countries developed very different forms of democratic party systems? Despite virtually ubiquitous conditions that are assumed to be challenging to democracy – low levels of economic development, high ethnic heterogeneity, and weak state capacity – nearly two dozen African countries have maintained democratic competition since the early 1990s. Yet the forms of party system competition vary greatly: from highly stable, nationally organized, well-institutionalized party systems to incredibly volatile, particularistic parties in systems with low institutionalization. To explain their divergent development, Rachel Beatty Riedl points to earlier authoritarian strategies to consolidate support and maintain power. The initial stages of democratic opening provides an opportunity for authoritarian incumbents to attempt to shape the rules of the new multiparty system in their own interests, but their power to do so depends on the extent of local support built up over time. The particular form of the party system that emerges from the democratic transition is sustained over time through isomorphic competitive pressures embodied in the new rules of the game, the forms of party organization and the competitive strategies that shape party and voter behavior alike.

    • Explains why some new African democracies have developed highly stable, institutionalized party systems while others have not
    • Suggests a new approach to classifying authoritarian regime features and their legacies for democracy, based on the nature of ruling-party linkages to local power brokers
    • Identifies mechanisms institutional isomorphism that make political parties within each national system more likely to resemble each other and the system as a whole more likely to endure over time
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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2014
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107045040
    • length: 286 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus. 28 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. A theory of party system variation
    2. Variations in party system institutionalization in Africa
    3. Competing explanations: from colonial rule to new democratic institutions
    4. Modes of authoritarian power
    5. Authoritarian power and transition control
    6. The emergence and endurance of the multiparty system
    7. Africa and beyond: party systems in new democracies.

  • Author

    Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University, Illinois
    fm.author_biographical_note1

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