This panel will reflect upon the features, opportunities and challenges that civil resistance to the consolidation of dominant-party systems brings about from a comparative perspective.
Democracy's third wave has given way to some sort of dominant-party systems in most African countries. Albeit leadership turnovers have become more frequent, dominant political parties have consolidated their grip on power across African sub-regions. Some scholars have discussed recently the core features of these dominant-party systems. Although most of them formally remain multi-party systems; incumbent parties promote strong patron-client networks, abuse state resources, control public media to maintain their hegemonic position, and sometimes, try to amend their Constitutions to extend their stay in power. In this context, opposition supporters and pro-democracy activities have taken to the streets of African cities in recurrent episodes of social unrest which have often been harshly repressed. The outcome has been different depending on the scenario: while in countries like Senegal and Burkina Faso mobilizations managed to prevent the perpetuation of their leaders in power, in others like DR Congo or Burundi, the political situation has worsened. Hence resistance to dominant-party systems is to some extent resulting in a new wave of illiberal policies and repressive practices to suppress dissent. At the same time, social protests might be fostering processes of democratisation, social empowerment and sociopolitical change. This panel will reflect upon the opportunities and challenges that civil resistance to the consolidation of dominant-party systems brings about from a comparative perspective. Our panel will examine interactions between social movements and dominant-party systems and try to deepen our understanding about the relationship between civil resistance and democratisation in the African context.