Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 4-22-2011


Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most politically unstable and undemocratic regions in the world. Theories of power-sharing and recent studies have indicated that institutions that allow for higher levels of power-sharing are often more successful at consolidating democracy and stability in highly divided societies, like those common in Sub-Saharan Africa. By examining the electoral system, executive type, and level of decentralization, this study first determines the level of institutional power-sharing for each of the 48 sub-Saharan states. Next, it compares these levels of power-sharing with indicators of democracy and state stability to determine if more power-sharing does correspond with higher levels of democracy and stability. Using a bivariate analysis and factoring in region, the data show a strong and significant correlation between higher levels of institutional power-sharing and higher levels of democracy and state stability in sub-Saharan Africa. However, power-sharing does not appear to be a necessary or sufficient driver of democratic outcomes. In order to better determine the nature of the relationship between institutional design and contextual factors, the later part of the study employs a focused-structured most-similar comparison between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, countries with identical and moderately low power-sharing scores but drastically different levels of democracy and state stability.


Comparative Politics | Political Science