Neopatrimonialism and Democracy: An Empirical Investigation of Africa's Political Regimes

Posted: 20 Mar 2017 Last revised: 11 Nov 2017

See all articles by Rachel Sigman

Rachel Sigman

Government of the United States of America - Naval Postgraduate School; V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2017

Abstract

One of the most common adjectives used to describe democracy in sub-Saharan Africa is "neopatrimonial." Characterized by strong executives, pervasive clientelism and use of state resources for political legitimation (Bratton and van de Walle 1997), neopatrimonial democracy has been (controversially) associated with a range of (mostly undesirable) social, political and economic outcomes. This paper offers an empirical assessment of neopatrimonialism in Africa's political regimes. We show that, contrary to conventional wisdom, African regimes vary both quantitatively and qualitatively in their embodiment of neopatrimonial rule. Moreover, we find no clear evidence indicating that neopatrimonialism necessarily impedes the advancement or survival of democracy.

Keywords: Democracy, Africa, Neopatrimonialism, Political Regimes

Suggested Citation

Sigman, Rachel and Lindberg, Staffan I., Neopatrimonialism and Democracy: An Empirical Investigation of Africa's Political Regimes (2017). ASA 2017 Annual Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2936614

Rachel Sigman (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Naval Postgraduate School ( email )

1 University Circle
Monterey, CA 93943-5001
United States

V-Dem Institute, University of Gothenburg ( email )

Box 711
Göteborg, S-405 30
Sweden

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

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