Conclusion: The Case for Democratic Optimism

Andrew Reynolds

in Electoral Systems and Democratization in Southern Africa

Published in print January 1999 | ISBN: 9780198295105
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600128 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Democratization

 Conclusion: The Case for Democratic Optimism

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This concluding chapter briefly makes a case for democratic optimism, showing that a clear pattern is emerging which suggests that contrary to the predictions of societal breakdown across sub-Saharan Africa, those countries with institutional mechanisms that create an atmosphere of inclusion are doing better than those that have opted for more exclusionary structures. South Africa and Namibia best exemplify the inclusive typology and have performed well on a number of fronts since multiparty democracy was introduced in 1994 and 1989, respectively. Drawing on these stories, it has become widely accepted that the only realistic solution for settling the problems of the war-torn, divided societies of Africa is the institution of inclusive arrangements. This thesis is discussed, with examples from across Africa, and the question is posed and discussed as to whether elections are nothing more than ethnic and racial censuses in Africa. The chapter ends by briefly looking at inclusion in practice – the nuts and bolts of constitutional design.

Keywords: Africa; constitutional design; democratization; elections; exclusion; inclusion; institutional mechanisms; Namibia; South Africa; sub-Saharan Africa

Chapter.  3257 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Politics

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