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Popular Protest and Political Reform in Africa

Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle
Comparative Politics
Vol. 24, No. 4 (Jul., 1992), pp. 419-442
DOI: 10.2307/422153
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/422153
Page Count: 24
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Popular Protest and Political Reform in Africa
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Abstract

This article analyzes the political protests which erupted through sub-Saharan Africa in the eighteen months following the collapse of the Berlin wall in November 1989 and examines subsequent government responses. A sample of thirty regimes is identified, of which about one-half experienced popular unrest and two-thirds undertook peaceful political reform by May 1991. Without rejecting standard structural and diffusionist explanations of protest and reform, the authors favor a contingent approach which emphasizes the resources available to government and opposition political actors as they jockey for power and legitimacy. The article concludes that recent political liberalization measures in African countries, though significant, fall short of a full transition to democracy.

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