It is two decades since the ‘third wave’ of democratization began to roll across sub-Saharan Africa in the early 1990s. This book provides a very timely investigation into the progress and setbacks over that period, the challenges that remain and the prospects for future democratization in Africa. It commences with an overall assessment of the (lack of) progress made from 1990 to 2010, exploring positive developments with reasons for caution. Based on original research, subsequent contributions examine various themes through country case-studies, inclusive of: the routinisation of elections, accompanied by democratic rollback and the rise of hybrid regimes; the tenacity of presidential powers; the dilemmas of power-sharing; ethnic voting and rise of a violent politics of belonging; the role of ‘donors’ and the ambiguities of ‘democracy promotion’. Overall, the book concludes that steps forward remain greater than reversals and that typically, though not universally, sub-Saharan African countries are more democratic today than in the late 1980s. Nonetheless, the book also calls for more meaningful processes of democratization that aim not only at securing civil and political rights, but also socio-economic rights and the physical security of African citizens.
This book was originally published as a special issue of Democratization