×
Capsule Review

How Autocrats Compete: Parties, Patrons, and Unfair Elections in Africa

In This Review

How Autocrats Compete: Parties, Patrons, and Unfair Elections in Africa
How Autocrats Compete: Parties, Patrons, and Unfair Elections in Africa
By Yonatan L. Morse
Cambridge University Press, 2018, 352 pp. Purchase

In recent years, several regimes have emerged that combine authoritarianism with genuinely competitive multiparty elections. In this tightly argued book, which focuses on Cameroon, Kenya, and Tanzania but has implications for all authoritarian countries that nevertheless regularly hold elections, Morse argues that such regimes generally rely on organizational strength and legitimacy to win at the ballot box—but when they lack those attributes, they turn to violence, repression, and vote rigging to stay in power. Morse’s work helps explain the resilience of regimes such as those in Mozambique and Tanzania, where well-organized and relatively legitimate dominant political parties have maintained control over systems that are far from fully democratic, while only rarely relying on repression or fraudulent elections. Interestingly, Morse also shows that international pressure matters. When foreign governments and international organizations are willing to condone nondemocratic practices and continue their economic support, authoritarian regimes prove more stable. 

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.

Continue