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Electoral politics and democracy in Africa: A critical review of Lindberg’s thesis

Christopher Appiah-Thompson

International Area Studies Review, 2018, vol. 21, issue 1, 85-94

Abstract: This article critically reviews, assesses and refines Lindberg’s theoretical proposition that African states will become more democratic if they simply keep holding elections, irrespective of the degree of ‘freeness and fairness of the elections’, by using new empirical evidence from Ghana. Specifically, it highlights three fundamental challenges to Lindberg’s thesis on theoretical, methodological and empirical grounds. To achieve the objectives of this article, first, a systematic and logical approach will be employed to assess the theoretical and methodological justifications underpinning Lindberg’s argument and some contributions to the debate from his critics. Second, it introduces new empirical evidence from Ghana, which clearly ‘deviates’ from Lindberg’s theoretical expectations in the long run, thus, calling for theoretical refinement and elaboration of the latter’s initial thesis. Finally, it draws from the analysis some conclusions and implications for the study of democratization in Africa in the future.

Keywords: Democratization; elections; electoral politics; consolidation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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DOI: 10.1177/2233865917745416

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