Organizational Power and the Fate of Competitive Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1990-2010
Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 3 Sep 2010
Date Written: 2010
This paper seeks to explain the diverging fate of Africa’s competitive authoritarian regimes. After showing that standard theoretical approaches cannot account for the observed variation among African cases, we develop an argument that focuses on incumbent organizational power, or specifically, the strength of state and ruling party organizations. Drawing on an analysis of 14 African regimes that either were or become competitive authoritarian between 1990 and 1995, we show that where state and ruling party organizations were well developed and cohesive, competitive authoritarian regimes remained stable. Where state and ruling party structures were weak, governments were more likely to fall from power. Turnover created opportunities for democratization, but in the absence of a potent domestic push for democracy, it usually resulted in a new round of competitive authoritarianism. Where state and ruling parties were of medium strength, mineral resources or assistance from a counter-hegemonic power (i.e., France) tipped the balance and regimes remained stable.
Keywords: Democratization, Competitive Authoritarianism, African politics
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