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By Linda J. Beck (auth.)

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If the moral imperative of the primordial public, in which local brokers protect their clients and their interests, was to collapse, could the civic public of formal institutions that in Africa has been amoral, detached from society, and highly corrupt assure political access of and accountability 22 Brok e r i ng D e mo c r ac y i n A f r ic a to nonelites? Or would the end of clientelism ensure the rise of rule of law that will protect and promote the interests of all segments of society? Should socioeconomic and political modernization in the form of democratization strip clients of their customary protections from exploitation without providing alternative means for their survival such as economic development and/or a welfare state, Africans ironically may end up longing for the days of “noblesse oblige” despite the inherent inequalities in a clientelist democracy.

Although rule of law may not be necessary for the achievement or maintenance of democracy, it would appear nevertheless to be necessary for the advancement of democracy. There is, however, a clear normative dimension to this argument, which is reflected in the recent literature on the quality of democracy. Whether this normative argument reinforces the teleology inherent in much of the democratization literature depends largely on whether the absence of rule of law in a clientelist democracy is viewed as a stage in the “evolution” to liberal (or advanced) democracy, or as an alternative, though presumably suboptimal, outcome of democratization.

The lack of rule of law in authoritarian regimes based on personal rule may be an important indicator that a democratizing country will become a clientelist democracy, but there are countries that may be categorized as clientelist democracies, such as the Ukraine, although rule of law was highly developed in their ancien regimes. Consequently, to explain the rise of clientelist democracy in countries with distinctly different ancien regimes, we can only claim with certainty that rule of law in clientelist democracies is relatively weak following democratization, in some cases indicating a perpetually weak state and in others reflecting the weakening or even collapse of the state during the democratization process or by the political and economic factors that contributed to democratization.

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