A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering In A Divided Society

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A Democratic South Africa? Constitutional Engineering In A Divided Society

By Donald L. Horowitz
University of California Press, 1991
293 pp. $24.95

South Africa will reinvent itself politically during constitutional negotiations to take place in the next few years. This book by a Duke University political scientist argues cogently for processes and institutional choices that offer strong incentives for interethnic accommodation and that soften the hegemonic aspirations of contending parties. Drawing on the comparative experience of severely divided societies, including Nigeria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland, Horowitz makes a strong case for a South African electoral system based on the AV (alternative voting) variant of preferential voting and for multiple parties, a presidential system and federalism. He argues against consociationalism and electoral systems based on proportional representation or Westminster. Not all the positions he develops are equally persuasive, but his effort to grapple with South Africa's daunting realities is truly impressive. He holds no brief for any of the competing political groupings, nor does he have any illusions about the probability of a stable democratic outcome, the omens for which he believes are not propitious.

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