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Carrie Manning, "Assessing African Party Systems after the Third Wave," Party Politics, 11 (November, 2005), 707-727.

First Paragraph:
In this article, I examine party system development in sub-Saharan Africa following the wave of democratization in the region in the early 1990s. Prior to 1990, only four countries in sub-Saharan Africa (three of them on the mainland) could be accurately described as competitive electoral democracies: Botswana, Gambia, Senegal and Mauritius. Between 1990 and 1995, 38 out of 47 countries in sub-Saharan Africa held legislative elections. By 1994, wrote Bratton and van de Walle (1997: 8), 'not a single de jure oneparty state remained in Africa'.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. General elections in Africa since 1990

Last Paragraph:
The study of party and party system development in Africa's emerging democracies is of the utmost importance to the study of African politics and comparative politics more generally. This discussion of African party systems and the comparative literature suggests that assumptions about the trajectory and outcomes of democratic development in Africa need to be more effectively probed and problematized on the basis of empirically informed analysis of operationalized politics in these systems. As the actors who must define, operate and maintain democratic institutions and processes, and as the intermediaries between the political system and citizens, parties clearly will be decisive in shaping the outcomes of democratic experiments in Africa. But it is not likely that they will do so in the same way that parties have done elsewhere. The role and character of parties depend very much on the degree to which elites choose to make parties, and for that matter democratic institutions, important. Elites may both define the rules of the game and play the game in ways that minimize or maximize the importance of parties in ways that build party capacity or eviscerate parties. It is important to know how and why they choose either path, and to investigate the implications for the character and survival of democratic politics.