Contemporary African Political Parties: Institutionalisation for the Sustainability of Democracy

Political parties are the custodians of democracy. Following the return of democracy to Africa during the ‘third’ and ‘fourth’ waves, political parties are undergoing structural changes (from military and one-party authoritarianism to liberal multiparty systems) for the development of sustainable democracy. This paper is not about institutionalised political parties or party systems, it is about understanding the historical development of political parties and their transformational nature in relation to the development of democracy in Africa. The paper therefore identifies some critical challenges that are threatening the institutionalisation process of the parties. These include party funding and finance, party ideology, the dominant-party syndrome, ineffective civil society opposition and problems of fragile electoral institutions. The paper argues that though these problems are part of the wider socio-political and economic dilemmas inherent in Africa they are more pervasive and have a devastating affect on political parties as instruments of modern representative democracy. The paper thus contends that, given the main concerns and attributes of good governance, it is the only panacea that can wholly address the institutional problems of political parties as well as other structural and institutional obstacles to the development of sustainable democracy in Africa. Good governance is presumed here to be the ideal and pragmatic solution to such institutional obstacles.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Benin People’s Revolutionary Party (PRPB), Cameroonian National Union-Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (UNC/RPDC), Chadian Progressive Party (PPT), Communist Party of China, Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire-African Democratic Party (PDCI-RDA), Democratic Party of Guinea (PDGuinea), e Dehomeyan Democratic Party (PDD), Kenya African Democratic party (Kanu), Partido Commusita de Cuba (PCC), Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR), Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), the Committee of Togolese Unity (CUT), the Convention People’s Party (CCP) in Ghana, the Senegalese Progressive Union (UPS), the Sudanese Union-African Democratic Rally (US-RDA), the Ugandan People’s Congress (UPC), theMali People’s Democratic Union (UDPM), United National Independence Party (UNIP), Voltaic Democratic Union-African Democratic Rally (UDV-RDA), Workers’ Party of Korea, Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF)