Published online by Cambridge University Press: 22 February 2020
Chapter 4 provides a detailed picture of key empirical trends in Africa’s leadership changes. It compares, in particular, the pre-1990 period with the post-1990 one. It shows that the primary effect of the new multiparty political arrangements has been a drastic reduction in the incidence of coups d’état and containment of African strongmen’s average duration in power. In many cases, elections helped impose an endpoint on the incumbent’s terms of office – often with the help of constitutional limits – forcing ruling parties to organize an internal succession process with a view to retaining the country’s presidency. In a more limited but highly significant number of cases, the outcome of the election has led to alternation in power between opposite political forces. What was only an exceptional occurrence between 1960 and 1989 has become considerably more common over the past 30 years.