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By Fitzroy Ambursley

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However, the logic of the political market has its own inherent tendency of selfdestruction. As the same authors state: ... : 22). Instances of misconduct of politicians in office are to be found across the world, and they feed the sense that “politicians are a class unto themselves” (Diamond/Gunther 2001: xii), who do not care about the real problems of their people. Decreasing electoral participation is in fact a sign of a disenchantment with politics, and while neo-liberal economic policies are reinforcing social inequalities, underprivileged groups may not find their concerns represented in the contemporary parties (see also Norris 2002: 107).

Another question is whether party membership has become meaningless and whether the decline in membership is an irreversible phenomenon (Wiesendahl 2006). Norris assumes that the main decline could have been in the more peripheral supporters, while the core workers may persist (2002: 111). Furthermore, the decrease of party membership is unevenly spread across parties in the same country. Social-democratic parties, which are the historical model for the mass party paradigm, have been hit much harder than conservative parties.

Thus, they are a phenomenon of a certain time and a certain social environment. Because of that, the application of Western standards to African parties remains an abstraction if the specific constellation of social forces is not considered. 3 Exceptionalism The exceptionalist approach deliberately tries to avoid Western bias and postulates the exception right from the beginning. This bears the danger of conceptualising Africa outside the rest of the world. The more we classify a specific region as different and unique, the more we obscure and mystify our object of interest and finally end up with an essentialisation of the differences.

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