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Do African parties contribute to democracy? Some findings from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria

Sebastian Elischer

Africa Spectrum, 2008, vol. 43, issue 2, 175-201

Abstract: It is often said that ethnic and clientelistic parties are bad for democracy. Empirical testing of this claim has been hindered by lack of agreement on what constitutes an ethnic or clientelistic party. This paper proposes a conceptualization and operationalisation of different party types as part of a succinct typology of parties. The usefulness of the empirical typology of political parties is then verified for three African countries: Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. In addition, ‘democratic’ party behaviour, both within parties and among them is investigated. Subsequently, the claim about the systemic consequences of party types is tentatively tested with a comparative design covering three African cases that display variation on both causes and outcomes. The findings indicate that programmatic parties behave most democratically and that, moreover, there seems to be a relationship between a party’s internal democracy and the way it interacts with other parties.

Date: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:43:y:2008:i:2:p:175-201