Michael Bratton and Nicholas Van de Walle, Democratic Experiments in Africa (2002).

Summary_: Bratton and Van de Walle are frustrated with the overuse of thick descriptions in the region, as opposed to more explicitly cross-national analyses.  Their analyses focus on explaining the following dependent variables: i) the level of protest at the onset of a transition; 2) the extent of political liberalization; 3) the move to a democratic transition, especially whether the country has experienced a ‘founding’ election.  The independent variables they examine are rooted in the democratization literature, and include structural conditions (economic status/rate of growth), contingent factors in actors’ initiatives, international factors, and formal and informal institutions, with specific attention paid to neopatrimonial regimes. They demonstrate that domestic (especially institutional factors) have been the most important factors in predicting African democratization. They conclude by predicting the endurance of neopatrimonialism, and of democracies that survive as ‘Big Man’ regimes. Also, the achievement of founding (national) elections is tremendously important for Africa, though the authors suggest that perhaps encouraging citizen participation would, over the long term, contribute more to democratic consolidation.