This paper analyses the declining importance of political parties in the Central African Republic (CAR). The country can be considered an extreme example of the lack of viability of a state in general, and democracy in particular. However, the quality of elections has exceeded the average in the sub-region over a substantial time-span. Hopes for a democratic future only faded in recent years. The paper hypothesises that both political parties and rebel movements are failing to adequately represent (ethnoregional) interests, but that parties are suffering more in the course of the enduring war and the peace process. Patterns of elite behaviour are presented as the main explanation for the resulting crisis of representation, with international actors' preference for inclusionary power-sharing deals seen as the main aggravating factor.
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