Democracy and Elections in Africa / Edition 1

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Overview

This volume studies elections as a core institution of liberal democracy in the context of newly democratizing countries. Political scientist Staffan I. Lindberg gathers data from every nationally contested election in Africa from 1989 to 2003, covering 232 elections in 44 countries. He argues that democratizing nations learn to become democratic through repeated democratic behavior, even if their elections are often flawed.

Refuting a number of established hypotheses, Lindberg finds no general negative trend in either the frequency or the quality of African elections. Rather, elections in Africa, based on his findings, are more than just the goal of a transition toward democracy or merely a formal procedure. The inception of multiparty elections usually initiates liberalization, and repeated electoral activities create incentives for political actors, fostering the expansion and deepening of democratic values. In addition to improving the democratic qualities of political regimes, a sequence of elections tends to expand and solidify de facto civil liberties in society.

Drawing on a wealth of data, Lindberg makes the case that repetitive elections are an important causal factor in the development of democracy. He thus extends Rustow's (1970) theory that democratic behavior produces democratic values.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Africa
This book is a path-breaking and much-needed study of the role of elections in Africa.

— Nic Cheeseman

Democratization
Contains significant levels of data and analysis and will be a useful text for students and practitioners alike.

— Heather Deegan

International Journal of African Historical Studies
Lindberg has done a good job. Written with serious academic and methodological rigor, this book contributes to the discourse on comparative democratization in Africa.

— Arthur Abraham

Perspectives on Politics
This book is an original, important, and in many ways impressive study that will make a contribution to both electoral and Africanist scholarship.

— James R. Scarritt

Comparative Political Studies
Lindberg contributes a serious study that has significant heuristic value and will encourage a testing and retesting of its hypotheses and theoretical premises.

— John R. Heilbrunn

Modern African Studies
Without doubt, this study provides a strong stimulus for future research, and this is precisely what excellent scientific work is meant to be.

— Matthias Basedau

African History
Essential reading for all people interested in elections and democracy in Africa.

— Gero Erdmann

Development and Cooperation
Draws far-reaching and well-based conclusions about the 'power of elections.'

— Gero Erdmann

Choice

An important contribution to the study of African politics and democratization in general... Highly recommended.

Taiwan Journal of Democracy

A good and timely book on a very important topic... His prose highlights his expertise in Africa, the comparative literature on democratization, democratization in Africa, and methodology.

Political Studies Review
A rigorous investigation... This book makes a notable contribution to the study of electoral politics, democratisation theory and the study of African politics.

— Peter Burnell

Foreign Affairs

For the foreseeable future, this book will be the essential reference on African multiparty elections.

Political Studies Review - Peter Burnell

A rigorous investigation... This book makes a notable contribution to the study of electoral politics, democratisation theory and the study of African politics.

Comparative Political Studies - John R. Heilbrunn

Lindberg contributes a serious study that has significant heuristic value and will encourage a testing and retesting of its hypotheses and theoretical premises.

Perspectives on Politics - James R. Scarritt

This book is an original, important, and in many ways impressive study that will make a contribution to both electoral and Africanist scholarship.

Africa - Nic Cheeseman

This book is a path-breaking and much-needed study of the role of elections in Africa.

International Journal of African Historical Studies - Arthur Abraham

Lindberg has done a good job. Written with serious academic and methodological rigor, this book contributes to the discourse on comparative democratization in Africa.

Democratization - Heather Deegan

Contains significant levels of data and analysis and will be a useful text for students and practitioners alike.

African History - Gero Erdmann

Draws far-reaching and well-based conclusions about the 'power of elections.'

Modern African Studies - Matthias Basedau

Without doubt, this study provides a strong stimulus for future research, and this is precisely what excellent scientific work is meant to be.

Foreign Affairs
How are African democracies progressing? Do multiparty electionsactually sap the legitimacy of fledgling democracies, given their inevitable imperfections, or are pluralist institutions getting stronger through practice and learning? Almost two decades after the "third wave" of democratization hit Africa, the pessimistic view has slowly come to hold sway, perhaps because the failures tend to get more attention than the successes. Lindberg's book now offers compelling evidence to buttress the optimistic view. Supported by the most systematic statistical analysis of African elections to date (a data set of elections is helpfully included as an appendix), Lindberg's convincing case is that elections in the region are getting more democratic over time and that multiple elections in a country positively affect its political institutions. Along the way, Lindberg makes many pertinent observations about contemporary African politics. Rather than just relying on broad statistical analysis, the book makes excellent use of his detailed knowledge of specific elections and political systems. For the foreseeable future, this book will be the essential reference on African multiparty elections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801883330
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 248
  • Sales rank: 1,121,068
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Staffan I. Lindberg is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and the Center for African Studies at University of Florida. His work on elections received the American Political Science Association's Juan Linz Award for Best Dissertation in 2004 and won the Annual Best Graduate Paper Prize of the African Studies Association in 2003.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
2 On democracy and elections 21
3 Elections in Africa over time 52
4 The self-reinforcing power of elections 71
5 The causal effects of elections 99
6 Democratization by elections? 119
7 Comparative perspectives and reflections 143
App. 1 Overview of elections in Africa, by year 163
App. 2 Changes in civil liberties rankings 166
App. 3 About the Freedom House Civil Liberties Index 171
App. 4 A data set on elections in Africa 174
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