Political parties are a vital element in the quality of representative democracy, and with democracy in retreat around the world, it is now more essential than ever to understand the role they play in enhancing accountability, supporting democracy, and reining in populism. No-where is this more true than in Africa, where just 9 countries (out of 54) are currently rated as free, democracy is declining, populism is on the rise, and a decreasing number of people prefer multiparty democracy to other forms of government. Despite being home to over a quarter of the world’s countries, however, little attention has so far been paid to the quality, role and impact of political parties on the African continent, leaving academics and civil society unclear about the best ways to support their development and strengthen good governance.
The Political Parties in Africa project is the first large-scale study of political party organization and activity in Africa, providing vital information, data and analysis to support accountability and democracy strengthening initiatives on the continent. Central to this is the development of a new cross-national dataset on African political parties, containing information on their formal rules, their organization and activities at a national and subnational level, and their interactions with citizens.
The Political Parties in Africa project is:
- Establishing an active network of researchers across Africa, Europe and North America.
This project brings together scholars from the global North and South to extend existing data collection efforts, develop a new research agenda, and improve our understanding of political parties in Africa.
- Strengthening empirical social science research capacity in African institutions.
We are building partnerships amongst centres of excellence across the African continent, strengthening their capacity to train new researchers and support civil society through the provision of high quality research. As part of this, we also partner with Afrobarometer and the UCT Summer School to provide rigorous training on the theory and study of parties.
- Collecting data on political parties across the African continent.
This includes data on central and local party structures, rules and practices, as well as party documents such as manifestos and constitutions.
- Partnering with existing international data collection efforts to bring Africa into the global conversation.
- Disseminating research on political parties in Africa.
We do this in a variety of different ways, including: holding workshops and conferences; coordinating special issues and edited volumes; sponsoring a peer-reviewed working paper series; and supporting panels at international conferences.
- Co-ordinating with policy makers and civil society to support democracy promotion efforts.
Room 4.89, Leslie Social Science Building,
Upper Campus, University of Cape Town
12 University Avenue
Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: +27 650 5370