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The pains of democratisation : the uneasy interface between elections and power-sharing arrangements in Africa

The recent and increasingly prevalent phenomenon of power-sharing in Africa raises questions about its value for state legitimacy, especially as far as elections are concerned. While there are various circumstances that may give rise to power-sharing, comparative insights from the case studies in this article highlight two trends : first, power-sharing following protracted violent conflicts that have been resolved through negotiated settlement ; and second, power-sharing following electoral contests that went awry. In both cases, power-sharing has been employed as an instrument for conflict management.

The article explores power-sharing experiments in both scenarios, investigating its utility as an instrument of democratisation. However, the results of power-sharing experiments are not uniform : the record is a mixed bag. Also, the context of, and peculiar circumstances in, each country have determined power-sharing outcomes. In post-war situations such as in Burundi and South Africa, power-sharing experiments have bolstered prospects for consociational democracy, institutionalised politics, and nation-building. Conversely, in post-election crisis experiments such as in Kenya and Zimbabwe, power-sharing arrangements have not really served the ideal of consociational democracy but, rather, the interests of political elites, especially their appetite for state power.

DOI:10.1080/09744053.2013.832064
Khabele Matlosa & Victor Shale
pages 1-22

Publié le 18 octobre 2013

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