Elections Without Democratization: How African Electoral Authoritarianism Survived

  • Wolfgang StuppertEmail author
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


This chapter takes a look at the widespread phenomenon of “elections without democratization” in Sub-Saharan Africa. It presents data on all direct national multi-party elections on the subcontinent that were held between 1990 and 2012. It shows that these elections fulfilled democratic standards in many respects. Yet, authoritarian ruling elites deprived them of a core functional principle: Meaningful competition between powerholders and the political opposition. It is shown that, contrary to previous research, electoral practice of de jure participatory, competitive, and legitimate elections does not contribute to democratization. Instead, only competitive elections are associated with substantial improvements in democratic governance.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Berlin Graduate School of Social SciencesHumboldt University of BerlinBerlinGermany

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