South Africa: democracy without the people?

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Perhaps more than any other democratizing country, South Africa generates widely differing assessments of the present state and likely future prospects of its democracy. If one takes the long view--comparing South Africa today to where it was just 12 years ago--it is difficult not to be enthusiastic about its accomplishments and its future. South Africa successfully emerged from the shadow of apparently irreconcilable conflict and unavoidable racial civil war to create a common nation. It has negotiated two democratic constitutions and has held four successful nationwide elections for national and local government. On the economic front, it has avoided the triple-digit inflation that many feared would accompany a populist economic strategy of redistribution and government intervention. It has stabilized the expanding debt and reversed the double-digit inflation inherited from the apartheid-era government. There have been impressive gains in employment opportunities and income for the growing black middle class, and poor blacks have seen unprecedented improvements in access to basic necessities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-36
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Democracy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


  • democracy
  • South Africa
  • apartheid
  • Afrobarometer

    Mattes, R., Gyimah-Boadi, E., Bratton, M., Logan, C., Dulani, B. & Mitullah, W.

    14/09/98 → …

    Project: Research

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