Theories of Party-Building: Africa, Competitive Authoritarianism, and Democracy

  • Catherine Lena Kelly
Part of the Contemporary African Political Economy book series (CONTAPE)


This chapter situates the book’s arguments about party formation, party trajectories, presidential turnover, and party loyalty and defection within the social science and African studies literature. It situates the research and its claims within two social science literatures, one on competitive authoritarianism, and another on party-building and party functions in developing countries. It also describes how the arguments in each book chapter improve or refine extant theories, findings, and assumptions about party politics, which are often rooted in accounts based on Western experiences and sequences of political and economic development. In particular, the chapter highlights how analyzing party-building dynamics on the uneven playing field, a hallmark of competitive authoritarianism, contributes to our understanding of why politicians would form parties that are not election-oriented but nevertheless find them worthwhile vehicles for political advancement, as is sometimes the case in Senegal. It also helps us account for proliferation, which theories of party-building in democracies and dominant-party autocracies do not predict.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catherine Lena Kelly
    • 1
  1. 1.American Bar Association Rule of Law InitiativeWashington, DCUSA

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