Labor Unions and “Democratic Forces” in Niger



It is widely accepted that labor unions and student unions played critical roles in Niger’s transition to multiparty democracy in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Both Western and Nigerien social scientists saw them as a key element in the “democratic forces”1 that contributed to the reversal of authoritarian military and plebiscitary regimes and that eventually, after several reversals, led to Niger’s current fragile democracy (Niandou Souley 1996; Wiseman 1996). With the hindsight of more than fifteen years of “democratization” in Africa, a more sober conclusion must be drawn: not only have the role of civil society and labor unions in particular declined in shaping Africa’s newly electoral democracies, there is good reason to conclude that in a country like Niger they never possessed the characteristics or resources to sustain such a critical and leading role in political reform. Given the obvious weakness of these groups and of “civil society” in general in Africa, when compared to contemporary Asian and Latin American societies (van de Walle 2001; White 1995), this retrenchment is hardly surprising. What may be surprising is that this temporary coalition ever had the success it did to begin with.


Civil Society Prime Minister International Monetary Fund Labor Union Structural Adjustment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adji, Souley. 1993. Les successions politiques: L’exemple du Niger. Unpublished paper.Google Scholar
  2. —. 1996. Démocratisation, PAS et Production de la violence populaire au Niger. Unpublished paper presented at the colloquium Transitions in Africa, Violence and the Politics of Participation, Niamey, Niger, June.Google Scholar
  3. —. 2000. Globalization and union strategies in Niger. In Organized labor in the 21st Century, ed. A. V. Jose. Geneva: International Institute for Labour Studies.Google Scholar
  4. Bakary, Djibo. 1992. Silence: On décolonise—itinèraire politique et syndical d’un militant africain. Paris: L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
  5. Beckman, B. 1992. Empowerment or repression? The World Bank and the politics of African adjustment. In Authoritarianism, democracy and adjustment, ed. P Gibbon, Y. Bangura, and A. Ofstad, 83–105. Uppsala, Sweden: Scandinavian Institute of African Studies.Google Scholar
  6. Burton, Michael, Richard Gunther, and John Higley. 1992. Introduction: Elite transformations and democratic regimes. In Elites and democratic consolidation in Latin America and Southern Europe, ed. John Higley and Richard Gunther. New York, Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Charlick, Robert. 1991. Niger: Personal rule and survival in the Sahel. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  8. —. 1996. “Democratic forces” in African civil society: The role of labor and student organizations in Niger’s recent political transitions. Unpublished paper, November.Google Scholar
  9. Charlick, Robert, Sheldon Gellar, Tina West, Leslie Fox, and Pearl Robinson. 1994. Improving democratic governance for sustainable development: An assessment of change and continuity in Niger. Washington DC: Associates in Rural Development.Google Scholar
  10. Charlick, Robert, Leslie Fox, Maureen Covell, Jean Rakotorisoa, and Charles Rabenrivo. 1994. An Assessment of Politics and Governance in Madagascar. Washington DC: Associates in Rural Development.Google Scholar
  11. Fatton, Robert. 1992. Predatory rule: State and civil society in Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.Google Scholar
  12. Gazibo, Mamoudou. 1997. Gloire et misères du movement syndical nigérien. Politique africaine 69 (1997): 126–34.Google Scholar
  13. Gervais, M. 1992. Les enjeux politiques de ajustements structurels au Niger, 1983–1990. Canadian Journal of African Studies 26 (2): 226–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Maïnassara, Boureïima. 1989. Pratiques syndicales et conscience de classes au Niger. Niamey: Imprimerie Nationale du Niger.Google Scholar
  15. Maïnassara, Boureïima—. 1999. L’evolution du mouvement syndical au Niger—De la periode coloniale à nos jours. Niamey: Presses de la Nouvelle Imprimerie du Niger.Google Scholar
  16. Migdal, J. S. 1988. Strong societies and weak state: State society relations and state capabilities in the third world. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Miles, W. F. S. 1994. Hausaland divided: Colonialism and independence in Nigeria and Niger. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Niandou, Souley A. 1992. Economic crisis and democratisation in Africa. Symposium of Ibadan, Nigeria, June 15–19.Google Scholar
  19. —. 1996. De l’Instabilité du modele compétitif à la conquete violente du pouvoir: Le case du Niger. Unpublished paper presented at the colloquium Transitions in Africa, Violence and the Politics of Participation, Niamey, Niger, June.Google Scholar
  20. —. 2000. Syndicalisme et démocratie au Niger: Suivi longitudinal. Unpublished paper.Google Scholar
  21. Rothchild, Donald, and Naomi Chazan. 1988. The precarious balance: State and society in Africa. Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  22. Schmitter, P. C. 1992. The consolidation of democracy and representation of social groups. American Behavioral Scientist 35 (4/5): 422–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. White, G. 1995. Civil society, democratisation and development (II): Case studies. Democratisation 2 (Summer): 56–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Thomson, Alex. 2004. An introduction to African politics. 2nd ed. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Van de Walle, Nicolas. 2001. African economics and the politics of permanent crisis, 1977–1999. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Wiseman, John A. 1996. The new struggle for democracy in Africa. Avebury, UK: Aldershot.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jon Kraus, ed. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations