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

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Levitsky, Steven and Way, Lucan A., Organizational Power and the Fate of Competitive Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1990-2010 (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1642742

Steven Levitsky

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Lucan A. Way (Contact Author)

University of Toronto ( email )

Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G8
Canada

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