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Parties in chains: do ethnic party bans in Africa promote peace?

[journal article]

Basedau, Matthias; Moroff, Anika

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Abstract Since the sweeping (re)introduction of multiparty systems in the early 1990s, almost all sub-Saharan countries have introduced legal provisions to ban ethnic or other identity-based particularistic parties. Altogether, 12 countries have actually banned political parties on these grounds. In theoretical terms, such bans can exclude particularism from politics but - contrary to public discourse - also run the risk of forcing groups to resort to violent means or of becoming an object of conflict themselves. Empirically speaking, hardly any general patterns in the effects of bans can be detected. A closer look at 12 politically relevant bans in six countries reveals an initially stabilizing impact in one case (Rwanda in 1994). A ban on a religious party in Kenya in 1993 triggered violent conflict. In cases such as Equatorial Guinea (1994) and Rwanda (2001, 2003), this regulatory measure, allegedly designed to promote peace, seems to be part of the 'menu of manipulation' and is abused to suppress the opposition.
Keywords Africa South of the Sahara; party; banning of a party; ethnicity; ethnic group; minority; religious party; ethnic conflict; party system; particularism; impact
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Free Keywords ethnic parties; sub-Saharan Africa
Document language English
Publication Year 2011
Page/Pages p. 205-222
Journal Party Politics, 17 (2011) 2
ISSN 1460-3683
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.