Democratization by Elections? Opposition Weakness in Africa

Issue Date July 2009
Volume 20
Issue 3
Page Numbers 108-121
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Opposition parties and their position in the national legislature is a central component of any strategy of “democratization by elections”. But the third wave of democratization in Africa has resulted in only a limited increase in political competition. Regardless of the nature and quality of electoral institutions, opposition parties have remained numerically weak and fragmented, and unable to carry out their roles of political counterweight to the victorious party and president. The performance of opposition parties indicates that we should question whether Africa’s multiparty systems really are progressing. At the very least, the pace of democratic progress has been exceedingly slow.

About the Authors

Lise Rakner

Lise Rakner is professor of comparative politics at the University of Bergen, and a senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute, Norway.

View all work by Lise Rakner

Nicolas van de Walle

Nicolas van de Walle is Maxwell M. Upson Professor of Government at Cornell University and nonresident fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C. His most recent book is Overcoming Stagnation in Aid-Dependent Countries (2005).

View all work by Nicolas van de Walle