Elite Change without Regime Change: Authoritarian Persistence in Africa and the End of the Cold War

Josef Woldense, Alex Kroeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Because the end of the Cold War failed to produce widespread democratic transitions, it is often viewed as having had only a superficial effect on Africa's authoritarian regimes. We show this sentiment to be incorrect. Focusing on the elite coalitions undergirding autocracies, we argue that the end of the Cold War sparked profound changes in the constellation of alliances within regimes. It was an international event whose ripple effects altered the domestic political landscape and thereby enticed elite coalitions to transform and meet the new existential threat they faced. We demonstrate our argument using cabinets as a proxy for elite coalitions, showing that their composition drastically changed at the end of the Cold War. Africa's authoritarian leaders dismissed many of the core members of their cabinets and increasingly appointed members of opposition parties to cabinet portfolios. Such changes, we argue, represent the dynamic responses that enabled autocracies to persist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume51
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 9 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was not funded by any organization or agency.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the American Political Science Association.

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