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Democratization in Africa after 1989: Comparative and Theoretical Perspectives

Richard Joseph
Comparative Politics
Vol. 29, No. 3, Transitions to Democracy: A Special Issue in Memory of Dankwart A. Rustow (Apr., 1997), pp. 363-382
DOI: 10.2307/422126
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/422126
Page Count: 20
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Abstract

Africa experienced a wave of transitions to more pluralist democratic systems after 1989. Most countries of sub-Saharan Africa held competitive party elections that removed some authoritarian rulers. Within a few years power shifted back to authoritarian rulers; only a handful of new democracies progressed toward fully participatory systems. Conjunctural factors explain these developments and situate Africa within the broader dynamics of global economic and political liberalization. The comparative study of these transitions can be furthered by contrasting Africa with theories of democracy and democratization. Special attention is devoted to the emergence of liberal democracy as virtual democracy acceptable to external forces, African leaders' feigned conversion, and factors that bolstered or hindered substantive transformations.

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