Article | African exceptions: democratic development in small island states

CEI researcher Edalina Rodrigues Sanches has co-authored a recent article, entitled “African exceptions: democratic development in small island states”, in the Journal of International Relations and Development

About the article

Small island states are much more likely to have democratic regimes than large continental states. This trend also holds across Africa, where the five island states with populations of 1.5 million or less are all rated at least ‘partly free’ by Freedom House. In this article we explore what it is about being a small island state that might explain this trend. Building on studies from other small island states, we find that the interaction between the two contextual factors is key to explaining their diversion from mainland trends in the African context. Specifically, ‘smallness’ leads to closer links between citizens and politicians in addition to more effective service delivery, while ‘islandness’ promotes community cohesion and provides a buffer against instability and conflict in neighbouring states. This results in a positive feedback loop that guards against authoritarian excess. Our focus on population size and geography thus adds to the existing studies of the contextual drivers of African democratisation.

Authors: Edalina Rodrigues SanchesNic CheesemanWouter Veenendaal & Jack Corbett

Learn more about it here.

The article was featured in The Economist and The Africa Report.

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Edalina Sanches

Doutora em Ciência Política (Universidade de Lisboa), é Professora Auxiliar em Estudos Africanos no Departamento de Ciência Política e Políticas Públicas e investigadora no Centro de Estudos Internacionais do Iscte. Os seus interesses de investigação incluem democratização, protesto popular, dedicação ao círculo eleitoral, instituições políticas, eleições, partidos políticos e sistemas partidários, com enfoque em África.

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