Competitive authoritarianism in Africa revisited

Part of the Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft – Sonderhefte book series (ZfVP)


Competitive authoritarianism has emerged as a major concept in the study of political regimes. The introduction of this special issue revisits Levitsky and Way’s seminal study Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes After the Cold War. Although Africa is the world region with the highest absolute number of competitive authoritarian regimes, political scientists working on Africa have rarely engaged with Levitsky and Way’s modern classic. In this introduction, we summarize their arguments, outline the empirical findings for Africa, and review the critiques. In doing so we provide the background for the contributions to this special issue.


Comparative politics Political regimes Autocratization Competitive authoritarianism Africa 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Art, David. 2012. What do we know about Authoritarianism after ten years? Comparative Politics 44 (3): 351–371.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bejarano, Anna Maria. 2011. Book review of Levitsky and Way (2010). Political Science Quaterly 126 (4): 715–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogaards, Matthijs. 2009. How to classify hybrid regimes? Defective democracy and electoral authoritarianism. Democratization 16 (2): 399–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bogaards, Matthijs. 2010. Measures of democratization: From degree to type of war. Political Research Quaterly 63 (2): 475–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bogaards, Matthijs. 2013. Reexamining African elections. Journal of Democracy 24 (4): 151–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bogaards, Matthijs. 2014. Multiparty elections in Africa: For better or worse. In Political parties, party systems and democracy in Africa, eds. Renske Doorenspleet and Lia Nijzink, 22–44. Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Bours Laborin, Mario. 2011. Mock democracies: Authoritarian cover-ups. Journal of International Affairs 65 (1): 254–256.Google Scholar
  8. Bunce, Valerie. 2011. Defeating authoritarian leaders in post-communist countries . New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burnell, Peter. 2013. Review article: Promoting democracy. Government and Opposition 48 (2): 265–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Carothers, Thomas. 2002. The end of the transition paradigm. Journal of Democracy 13 (1): 5–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cheeseman, Nic. 2010. African elections as vehicles for change. Journal of Democracy 21 (4): 139–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dahl, Robert A. 1971. Polyarchy. Participation and Opposition. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  13. De Jager, Nicola, and Cara Meintjes. 2013. Winners, losers and the playing field in southern Africa's ‘Democratic Darlings’: Botswana and South Africa compared. Politikon 40 (2): 233–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Diamond, Larry. 2002. Thinking about hybrid regimes. Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 21–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Elischer, Sebastian. 2013. Political parties in Africa. Ethnicity and party formation . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fenner, Sofia. 2011. Book review of Levitsky and Way (2010). Comparative Political Studies 44 (7): 935–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fombad, Charles. 2012. The African Union and democratization. In Routledge handbook of democratization, ed. Jeffrey Haynes, 322–336. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Gibson, Edward. 2010. Politics in the periphery: An introduction to subnational authoritarianism and democratization in Latin America. Journal of Politics in Latin America 2 (2): 3–12.Google Scholar
  19. Gilley, Bruce. 2010. Democratic triumph, scholarly pessimism. Journal of Democracy 21 (1): 160–167.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Goodfellow, Tom. 2014. Legal maneuvers and violence: Law making, protest and semi-authortarianism in Uganda. Development and Change 45 (4): 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Karl, Terry Lynn. 1995. The hybrid regimes of Central America. Journal of Democracy 7 (2): 3–14.Google Scholar
  22. Kneuer, Marianne, and Thomas Demmelhuber. 2015. Gravity centres of authoritarian rule: A conceptual approach. Democratization . doi: 10.1080/13510347.2015.1018898 .Google Scholar
  23. Kubik, Jan. 2011. Book review of Levitsky and Way (2010). Slavic Review 70 (3): 660–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. LeBas, Adrienne. 2011. From protest to parties . Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Levitsky, Steven and James Loxton. 2013. Populism and competitive authoritarianism in the Andes. Democratization 20 (1): 107–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2002. The rise of competitive authoritarianism. Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 51–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2010. Competitive authoritarianism. Hybrid regimes after the Cold War . New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2012. Beyond patronage: Violent struggle, ruling party cohesion, and authoritarian durability. Perspectives on Politics 10 (4): 869–889.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2013. The durability of revolutionary regimes. Journal of Democracy 24 (3): 5–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Levitsky, Steven, and Lucan Way. 2014. Structure vs. choice. Journal of Democracy 25 (4): 151–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mainwaring, Scott. 2012. From representative democracy to participatory competitive authoritarianism:Google Scholar
  32. Hugo Chávez and Venezuelan politics. Perspectives on Politics 10 (4): 955–967.Google Scholar
  33. Matti, Stephanie. 2010. The democratic republic of the Congo? Corruption, patronage, and competitive authoritarianism in the DRC. Africa Today 56 (4): 43–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Melber, Henning. 2015. Post-liberation democratic authoritarianism: The case of Namibia. Politikon 42 (1): 45–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Morse, Yonathan. 2012. The era of electoral authoritarianism. World Politics 64 (1): 161–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Morse, Yonathan. 2014. Party matters: The institutional origins of competitive hegemony in Tanzania. Democratization 21 (4): 655–677.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. O’Donnell, Guillermo, and Philippe Schmitter. 2013. Transitions from autocratic rule. Tentative conclusions about uncertain outcomes. Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press.Google Scholar
  38. Parks, Robert. 2012. Algeria and the Arab uprisings. In The Arab Spring: Will it lead to democratic transitions?eds. Clement Henry and Ji-Hyang Jang, 56-71. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  39. Peiffer, Caryn, and Pierre Englebert. 2012. Extraversion, vulnerability to donors, and political liberalization in Africa. African Affairs 111 (444): 355–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Resnick, Danielle. 2013. Urban poverty and party populism in African democracies. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Schedler, Andreas. 1998. What is democratic consolidation? Journal of Democracy 9 (2): 91–107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Schedler, Andreas. 2013. The politics of uncertainty: Sustaining and subverting electoral authoritarianism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Seeberg, Michael. 2011. Book review of Levitsky and Way (2010). Democratization 19 (1): 141–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Seeberg, Michael. 2014. Mapping deviant democracies. Democratization 41 (4): 634–654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Slater, Dan. 2011. Book review of Levitsky and Way (2010). Perspectives on Politics 9 (2): 385–388.Google Scholar
  46. Thiriot, Céline. 2013. Des transitions africaines au monde arabe, 1991-2011: Vent de printemps sur les outils de la transitologie. Revue Internationale De Politique Comparée 20 (2): 145–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Tolstrup, Jakob. 2013. When can external actors influence democratization? leverage, linkage, and gatekeeper elites. Democratization 20 (4): 716–742.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. van de Walle, Nicholas. 2002. Elections without democracy. Journal of Democracy 13 (2): 66–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Van de Walle, Nicolas. 2012. Between authoritarianism and democracy. Journal of Democracy 23 (1):169–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Vladisavljevic, Nebojsa. 2014. Competitive authoritarianism, and popular protest: evidence from Serbia under Milosevic. International Political Science Review. doi: 10.1177/0192512114535450 .Google Scholar
  51. Volpi, Frédéric. 2013. Algeria versus the Arab Spring. Journal of Democracy 24 (3): 104–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. von Soest, Christian, and Michael Wahman. 2015. Not all dictators are equal: Coups, fraudulent elections, and the selective targeting of democratic sanctions. Journal of Peace Research 52 (1): 17–31.Google Scholar
  53. Wahman, Michael. 2014. Democratization and electoral turnover in Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Democratization 21 (2): 220–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Way, Lucan. 2008. The real causes of the color revolutions. Journal of Democracy 19 (3): 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Way, Lucan. 2009. A reply to my critics. Journal of Democracy 20 (1): 90–97.Google Scholar
  56. Way, Lucan. 2012a. The sources of authoritarian control after the Cold War: East Africa and the former Soviet Union. Post-Soviet Affairs 28 (4): 424–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Way, Lucan. 2012b. Dear in headlights: Incompetence and weak authoritarianism after the cold war. Slavic Review 71 (3): 619–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Weidmann, Nils. 2011. Book review of Levitsky and Way (2010). Journal of Peace Research 48 (6): 81–8.Google Scholar
  59. Weis, Toni. 2014. Dominant parties and the private sector in Sub-Saharan Africa: A typology of approaches. Comparative Politics and Governance 8 (3-4): 263–281.Google Scholar
  60. Wisemann, John. 1990. Democracy in black Africa: Survival and revival . USA: Paragon House Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political StudiesUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations