The Politics of Economic Restructuring and Democracy in Africa
by Obioma M. Iheduru
June 1999, 184pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-30833-8
$64, £48, 54€, A92

An ambitious attempt to demonstrate a vital empirical link between economic restructuring and democratic transitions in Africa.

In a bold attempt to develop an innovative theory of political change arising from dual economic and political transformations, Iheduru maintains that economic structural adjustment policies have unintended political consequences, leading to democratic liberalization in post-colonial African states. Using classical, dependency, and neoliberal approaches as a backdrop, he demonstrates that structural adjustment policies shaped by conditionality measures foster the operation of free-enterprise market forces. As a social consequence of the reform effort, winners and losers organize to protect their interests, first in the economy and later in the political arena. Thus the structural reorientation of African economies leads not only to the ascendancy of the market and economic growth but also to the political opening of the African state, thereby facilitating the participation of excluded groups.

In conclusion, Iheduru predicts that structural adjustment is the best policy alternative for initiating and sustaining meaningful economic changes in Africa. Moreover, he claims, it may be a deciding factor in the possible democratizing of the African continent, which would provide an auspicious atmosphere for a properly functioning market economy.

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