In This Review

The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments: Elites and Institutions.
The Fate of Africa's Democratic Experiments: Elites and Institutions.
Edited by Leonardo A. Villalón and Peter Vondoepp
Indiana University Press, 2005, 352 pp

What has happened to the African countries that underwent democratization efforts in the early 1990s? There is a remarkable, if not necessarily surprising, dearth of media and scholarly analysis of the politics of African countries that are not embroiled in civil wars or plagued by famine or run by presidents who are appropriating the land of white settlers. The general introduction of multiparty electoral politics across the region in the early 1990s led to a period of dynamic if volatile change in the region that is both fascinating and essential to understanding Africa's future. This excellent collection of country case studies focuses on the ten African countries that can claim to have passed from authoritarian to democratic rule more than a decade ago. Democratic rule has truly taken hold in some, but in others, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the democratic experiment ended quickly in murderous civil war. The sensible introduction and conclusion to the volume attempt to generalize from the disparate outcomes of these case studies -- an objective not fully realized, although each chapter provides important clues.