Elections and Political Parties in Contemporary Sub-Saharan Africa: Conceptual Problems, Empirical Findings and the Road Ahead by Gero Erdmann

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Author
Gero Erdmann
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9789171065797
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Paperback
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Book review

Following the (re-) introduction of multiparty systems in Africa in the early 1990s, third and fourth elections in Africa’s new democracies and hybrid regimes are now being seen. Although there is a large and growing literature on democracy and elections in Africa, parties and party systems have hitherto not been the focus of research, which may be surprising given their central role in a liberal democracy. The early works from the 1960s and 1970s provide neither a sound conceptual nor empirical basis. Research on political parties and party systems in Africa is still in its infancy.

Various contributions in this volume address the theoretical and conceptual challenges provided by the African parties and party systems with their particular features of weak organization, informal relationships dominated by "big men" and clientelism within a neopatrimonial setting. Others raise the crucial question of representation in relation to ethnicity, civil society and gender, or look into the empirical relationship between party systems and democracy. Further chapters ask questions about the appropriate electoral system for the multiethnic context in Africa and deal with the problem of electoral system reform. Finally, there are chapters which focus on the neglected area of electoral violence, and the moral role of money and vote buying is scrutinized through a case study.

An important conclusion is that party research in Africa needs more conceptual clarity as well as empirical research particularly on party organization, voting behavior, and the role of ethnicity.


The volume is written for academics and graduate students in Comparative Politics, Party Research, Electoral and African Studies. It will be also useful for professionals dealing with Africa in (political) development assistance.


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