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Linkberg: It's our time to chop

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Linkberg. 2003. It's our time to chop: Do elections in Africa feed neopatrimonialism rather than counteract it?. Democratization 14 (2).

In Brief

"This article addresses the concern that democratisation may contribute to the reproduction of neopatrimonialism, rather than to counter-act it. The article reports the result of a survey among MPs in Ghana regarding their election campaigns. Total spending, sources of funds, and their usage are analysed in the context of democratic consolidation of liberal democracy. The survey results are supplemented with data collected in 34 interviews with MPs. The data shows that a MPs are involved in patron-client relationships to a significant degree to reproduce their political power. Furthermore, the prevalence of patronage politics among MPs in Ghana has increased throughout the period of democratic rule. The prospects for a consolidation of liberal democracy are gloomy.

"The result of the analysis shows that a persistent pattern of patronage politics threatens the very heart of democratic consolidation. Vertical accountability and legitimacy is threatened by alternative pacts of loyalty, expectations of corruption, and tendencies to delegative mandates. Horizontal accountability risks pervasion by "big man" interventions, and by insufficient allocation of time to monitoring-, policy-, and legislative activities of the MPs. While Ghana's transition-process is an example many other countries may learn from, observers should also be aware of the hurdles of consolidation."