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Ultranationalism, democracy and the law: insights from Côte d'Ivoire

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Piccolino, Giulia

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Abstract Although much has been written about the ideology of Laurent Gbagbo's Front Populaire Ivoirien in Côte d'Ivoire and its impact on the Ivorian politico-military crisis, little attention has been paid to the ubiquitous role of the law in the discourse and political strategy of the pro-Gbagbo elite. The Ivorian case may provide important insights about the connection between ultranationalist ideology and a legalist, formalist conception of democracy and national sovereignty. The article analyses the circumstances of the emergence of ‘legalist nationalism’ in Côte d'Ivoire by looking at key episodes of the Ivorian transition between 2002 and 2012. The article discusses the relevance of Pierre Englebert's concept of ‘legal command’ and the turbulences of democratic transitions in accounting for the prominence of legalism in Ivorian politics. It explores the implications of the Ivorian case for understanding the connection between law and politics in Africa.
Keywords Ivory Coast; democratization; political elite; nationalism; political power; law; legalism; constitution; West Africa; developing country; Africa
Classification Political System, Constitution, Government; Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture
Document language English
Publication Year 2014
Page/Pages p. 45-68
Journal The Journal of Modern African Studies, 52 (2014) 1
ISSN 1469-7777
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.