27 February 2010

Book: The Failure of Democracy in the Republic of Congo

John F. Clark, "The Failure of Democracy in the Republic of Congo" (Lynne Rienner, 2008):


Publisher's description: "Why did the democratic experiment launched in the Republic of Congo in 1991 fail so dramatically in 1997? Why has it not been seriously resumed since then? In tackling these complex questions, John Clark provides a thorough analysis of more than fifteen years of Congolese politics. Clark explores a series of logical hypotheses regarding why democracy failed to take root in Congo, moving from political culture to economic performance, ethnoregional identities, French foreign policy, the role of militias, and institutional design. He also discusses the country's present 'electoral authoritarian' regime. His conclusions shed light not only on the nature of Congolese politics, but also on the utility of the scientific approach to understanding the social world."

Reviews: "Clark has provided us with a sure-footed account of Congolese politics, a carefully considered discussion of the most important factors determining the failure of Congolese democratization efforts, a perceptive critique of the ways that the complexities of such processes elude current scholarship on democratization, and a useful guidepost to promising directions of future research." (Nelson Kasfir, "Perspectives on Politics")

"Clark provides one of the most detailed and theoretically informed accounts of recent Congolese politics of any that can be found. He also brings a welcome new realism to the study of democracy." (William S. Reno, Northwestern University)

"This valuable study not only chronicles one of the most interesting examples of 'democratic failure' in Africa, but also provides insight into the politics of one of the less well known, but strategically important, African states." (Victor T. Le Vine, Washington University in St. Louis)

John F. Clark is Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at Florida International University.

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