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Michelle Kuenzi and Gina Lambright, "Party System Institutionalization in 30 African Countries," Party Politics, 7 (July 2001), 437-468.

First Paragraph:
In the 1990s, democratic movements have emerged to challenge authoritarian rule in countries across Africa. However, many of the democratic advances remain vulnerable. The events have led observers to ask: 'Will the new democratic regimes survive?' Yet, this begs a more general question: what factors facilitate the survival and consolidation of democratic regimes? One factor thought to affect the establishment and survival of democratic forms of government is the level of party system institutionalization. Yet, does party system institutionalization facilitate the establishment of democratic processes? Mainwaring and Scully (1995) explore the impact of the degree of institutionalization of party systems on democratic consolidation in Latin America. On the basis of their 12-country study, they conclude that a high level of institutionalization fosters democratic consolidation. However, attention to this question has been scant and erratic with reference to Africa. In order to begin to fill this lacuna in the literature we provide a description of the level of party system institutionalization in the African context. To accomplish this goal, we apply the framework developed by Mainwaring and Scully to a sample of African countries.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1: Untitled p. 445
Table 2a: Electoral volatility in thirty African countries p. 449
Table 2b: Presidential/legislative difference in 30 African countries p. 452
Table 3a: Lower-chamber seats held by parties founded by 1970 p. 454
Table 3b: Years since founding of parties with 10 percent of chamber seats, 1999 p. 456-7
Table 4: Acceptance of parties and elections p. 458-9
Table 5: Level of party system institutionalization p. 461

Last Paragraph:
Still, we come back to the point that an institutionalized party system is a requisite for democratic government, and renewed party activity is a precursor, albeit an early one, to an institutionalized party system. In countries where political activity appeared nearly extinguished for several decades, the growth of political activity can largely be seen as positive. Moreover, the probability that democracy will take root in some of the countries with relatively institutionalized party systems seems fairly high. For example, Segal claims that it is 'highly probable' that democracy and capitalism will be institutionalized in Botswana and Mauritius (1996: 381). Huntington notes that predictions often prove embarrassing, and so we will abstain from making grandiose predictions about the future of Africa's nascent democracies. We feel that applying the framework we have adapted from Mainwaring and Scully can help us better understand the processes of party system institutionalization and democratic consolidation in Africa. Looking at some of our indicators over time can give an idea of how party system institutionalization is evolving. For example, looking at the rise and fall in electoral volatility over time may help us to assess the emergence of the tendency to vote the basis of party labels. The study of parties and party systems can do much to illuminate the prospects for democratic governance in the African countries that appear to have embarked on a path to democracy.