Opposition Parties and Democratisation in Africa
Journal of Contemporary African Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 123-138, January 2006
Posted: 18 Sep 2007
The behaviour of political parties is crucial in functioning democracies but arguably even more so in democratising countries. While the behaviour of parties can also be made the object to explain, the consequences of significant decisions such as to boycott elections and refusal to accept electoral outcomes, is the focus here. Addressing the comparative literature on political transitions in general and the discussion on hybrid regimes in particular, this article investigates the effects on democratisation from different opposition strategies during elections. Analysing 210 elections in 53 electoral regimes in Africa, it is concluded that boycotts of elections and rejection of the outcome rather than stimulating regime change acts to closure and political regression. Conversely, full participation and acceptance of results even if election processes are less than free and fair facilitates further democratisation.
Keywords: elections, Africa, opposition, political parties, protest, electoral system
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