This article analyzes the role of religious actors at different stages in the long and gradual processes of democratization in Senegal. It examines the transformations in their political influence from pillars of the stable (but non-democratic) post-independence state, to a more ambiguous posture in the decade of democratic opening. A discussion of the interactive relationship between religious change and the transition to democracy over the course of the 1990s leads us to an analysis of the role of religious actors in debating the substantive content of Senegalese democracy in the decade that followed. The article concludes that while procedurally religious actors are playing an important role in the development of the democratic system in Senegal, substantively they are doing so in part by calling into question some understandings of what democracy entails. The ultimate evaluation of their contribution to the consolidation of democracy hinges at least in part on our conceptualization of democracy itself.
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