chapter  12
Neopatrimonial Regimes and Political Transitions in Africa
ByMichael Bratton, Nicolas van de Walle
Pages 37

This chapter highlights differences among political regimes, initially between Africa and the rest of the world and subsequently among African countries themselves. It compares African transitions with those in Latin America and Southern Europe and finds that transition dynamics in Africa have been distinctive. The chapter argues that the literature on political transitions has focused excessively on the contingent interactions of key political actors and underestimated the formative impact of political institutions. It defines neopatrimonialism as a regime type and describes its characteristic features in Africa. The chapter discusses how the features of neopatrimonialism are likely to mold transitions in patterns quite different from those observed in transitions from other regime types. It distinguishes variants of the neopatrimonial regime to explain transition dynamics and outcomes observed recently in sub-Saharan Africa. The chapter talks about the distinctiveness of transitions from neopatrimonial rule and also discusses its implications.