African Social Science Review


In many African countries, “watershed” elections led to political liberalization, and to democratization in a handful of cases. However, years later, many liberalized regimes backslid into authoritarianism. This paper evaluates the long-term impact of these election outcomes. Using a transitology framework, it shows that the reforms implemented at this crucial time dictated the course of liberalization well into the 2010s. Countries where a cohesive opposition managed to wrestle power from the elites have retained their liberalization gains to date. Countries where the opposition was more disorganized and where civil society was weaker remain, at best, hybrid regimes.



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