In This Review

Democratic Struggle, Institutional Reform, and State Resilience in the African Sahel
Democratic Struggle, Institutional Reform, and State Resilience in the African Sahel
Edited by Leonardo A. Villalón and Rahmane Idrissa
230 pp, Lexington Books, 2020
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This excellent collection of studies of six Francophone countries in the Sahel region of West Africa (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal) examines the impact of democratization on state building since the early 1990s. The supporters of democratization assumed that it would produce more legitimate and effective central states. The process has proved partial and uneven, but all six countries did allow political oppositions to form and began to convene regular multiparty elections. The valuable case studies of Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger suggest that the turn to electoral politics strengthened institutions, whereas the chapter on Mali shows how democratization led to the government’s collapse in 2011. The collection offers no easy generalizations to explain this variation but draws out the social, political, and economic histories of each country, the choices made by individual politicians, and the key political groups that shaped institutional outcomes.