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CSD Conference September 2011

Party Systems and the Future of Democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa', 22-24 September 2011, Warwick University

Research theme

The conference addressed one of the key issues that confront emerging democracies in Sub-Saharan Africa: what are the current party system configurations on the continent and what are their consequences for the future of democracy?

We are living in an era with an unprecedented number of democracies all around the world. Particularly since 1989, democracy has spread not only to Eastern Europe, Asia, and Latin America, but also to parts of Africa. Experts were worried that the adoption of democracy would lead to highly fragmented party systems in Africa because of the deep ethnic divisions on this continent. However, this did not happen. In contrast, party systems with one major dominant party emerged and have prevailed in many new African democracies.

Surprisingly, research on this phenomenon has been scarce. There are not many studies of the concepts, measurements, and explanations of party systems with one dominant party in general, let alone in the African context. Our project aims to fill this gap.

While our 2010 conference focused on possible explanations for the endurance and decline of one-party dominant party systems, this conference focused on the consequences of one-party dominance, with special reference to the Sub-Saharan African context.