Skip to main content

SP06 - Democracy and its challenges in Africa: old problems, new perspectives?

Convened by Arrigo Pallotti (University of Bologna, Italy), Henning Melber (Nordic Africa Institute), Ian Phimister (University of the Free State) and Mario Zamponi (University of Bologna)

To submit an abstract for this panel, please check the FAQ section on paper management.

Access conftool, our conference management software, here

The outset of the democratic transitions in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s gave rise also to high expectations of economic progress and inclusive development, but they were faced with new waves of social clashes and internal conflicts for state power. Furthermore, after September 11, 2001, security and stability became the central priorities of the Western governments on the continent at the expense of democracy promotion, coupling a number of African partners’ will to consolidate their (authoritarian) control of political space and society. Today, it has become clear that those expectations were largely frustrated, but several and sometimes diverging explanations have been offered of the disappointing outcomes of the democratic transitions in sub-Saharan Africa.

This panel aims at discussing new and original perspectives on the historical, political and social ingredients shaping democracy and the political systems in sub-Saharan Africa today in order to understand how Africa fits into and at the same time helps reshape ‘rhythms of development’ and democratization trends worldwide. The panel is intended as a chance to go beyond insights from institutional analyses on the ‘lacks’ of African democracies by considering, in historical perspective, the multiple layers shaping power relations in the African political systems as part of the challenges facing democracy at global level too: from domestic competition for resources access to the new sites of production of political consensus, from local development trajectories to external relations with the international community within the transformations of the Third millennium. Looking at the causes rather than solely at the effects of current fragilities in building inclusive democratic systems, research-based proposals and/or theoretically grounded contributions on case-studies are welcome.

This panel is organised by the EADI Working Group on Europe and Transitions in (Southern) Africa