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From Single-Party to Electoral Authoritarian Regimes: The Institutional Origins of Competitiveness in Post-Cold War Africa

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Scholarship on authoritarianism has become concerned with variation in electoral authoritarian outcomes, observed in terms of the competitiveness of elections. Simultaneously, there has been a growing focus on the role of authoritarian institutions, and especially political parties, in explaining authoritarian survival. This article links these two perspectives by focusing on the subset of formerly single-party regimes in Africa that transitioned to electoral authoritarianism. The article highlights differences in party institutionalization and patterns of social incorporation as key aspects that help explain the competitiveness of elections. Through typological theorizing, ten countries are compared along measures of party capacity, economic performance, opposition strength, and external actor pressure. The study aims to highlight variation in institutional development in African cases and to illuminate the underpinnings of electoral authoritarian regimes.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2015

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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