Confronting the Janus Face: The Armed Forces and African Transitional Politics
Allen, Nathaniel David Feder
MetadataShow full item record
In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, scholars have given renewed attention to the role of the armed forces as an essential but ambivalent actor in the birth, life, and death of democracy. Despite this emergent literature, there is no consensus concerning the institutional dimensions, causal mechanisms, and regional differences that motivate why soldiers choose to support political reformers, side with dictators, or upend existing democratic regimes. This dissertation proposes a theory on the relationship between authoritarian civil-military relations, democratic transitions, and the duration of emerging democratic regimes in Africa. It argues that the continent has been characterized by three predominant forms of authoritarian civil-military relations, each with distinct democratization patterns: military regimes, ethnic civil-military relations, and representative civil-military relations. Military regimes occur when a country is ruled by a junta of military officers. Cleavages between praetorian and professional factions of the armed forces make democratic transitions likely, but democratic settlements brittle. Authoritarian regimes with ethnic civil-military relations are ruled by a civilian who attempts to recruit co-ethnics into key positions in the army or other parallel military institutions. Patron-client relations between the authoritarian leaders and military institutions dominated by co-ethnics impede democratic transition, but the absence of a politically dominant military results in more stable democracy than in military regimes. Authoritarian regimes with representative civil-military relations refrain from manipulating either the political or ethnic loyalties of the armed forces. Marginalized from politics and free from ethnic allegiances, such regimes are most likely to transition to stable democratic rule. These theoretical claims are evaluated through cross-country regression analysis and case studies in Nigeria, Sudan and Tunisia. The cross-country analysis tests whether authoritarian military institutions affect the likelihood of democratic transition, as well as the duration of emerging democratic regimes. The case studies, which are supported by key informant interviews with military officials and politicians in Tunisia and Nigeria, trace the causal mechanisms that facilitate military action for or against democratization.