In This Review
Democratization in South Africa: The Elusive Social Contract

Democratization in South Africa: The Elusive Social Contract

By Timothy D. Sisk

Princeton University Press, 1995, 342 pp.

This account of the four-year period of negotiation leading up to South Africa's first democratic election in 1994 introduces no new empirical data but instead poses an analytical perspective stressing institutional choice. Key competing elites, the author argues, in each case moved during the negotiations from the ideal to the possible, gradually converging on a mutually acceptable set of rules and institutional arrangements that represented a fragile but workable social contract. Pulled by a "centripetal dynamic," de Klerk's National Party settled for a form of "modified consociationalism," while the African National Congress accepted a modified majoritarianism. Some readers may see this as journalism recycled through a wash of graduate seminar terminology; others may find it useful in placing South Africa's "miracle" transition in a more generalized analytical context.