Political parties and party systems

Authored by: Alexander Stroh

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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African political parties have a bad reputation despite the indispensable role they play in democratization. They are often conceived as personalistic vehicles and as weak organizations that rarely propose credible programmatic positions, much less feasible political solutions. African party systems are known for their notorious ethno-regional shape and dysfunctional fragmentation patterns. This chapter challenges such broad generalizations and discusses the range of recent party system dynamics. In doing so, counterintuitive perspectives—such as the focus on party system flexibility and the prospects for programmatic competition—encourage a fresh look at differences between African parties and their specific impact on democratization, instead of reinforcing the search for commonalities that distinguish Africa from the rest of the world.

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