Recent Books: Africa: Multi-Ethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaig/Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation

By van de Walle, Nicolas | Foreign Affairs, May/June 2013 | Go to article overview

Recent Books: Africa: Multi-Ethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaig/Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation


van de Walle, Nicolas, Foreign Affairs


Multi-ethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaigns BY LEONARDO R. ARRIOLA. Cambridge University Press, 2012, 324 pp. $90.00.

Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation BY TIM KELSALL. Zed Books, 2013, 200 pp. $116.95.

Policymakers and students of African political economy have long wondered why more African governments have not done a better job of promoting investment by the private sector and what factors differentiate the minority of countries that have enjoyed good relations with business. Both of these books shed light on this question by emphasizing political processes rather than ideology or economic policy.

Using a variety of methods, Arriola carefully and persuasively argues that democratic rule and accountability become more likely when the main ethnic groups that control the government in a country are not the same as those that control finance. This form of political pluralism allows for checks and balances to prevent the abuse of power. Arriola makes his case through inventive data analysis and thorough case studies of Cameroon and Kenya. The idea that combining independent capitalist actors with political pluralism can lead to a more disciplined state and expand economic opportunities goes back at least to James Madison. …

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Recent Books: Africa: Multi-Ethnic Coalitions in Africa: Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaig/Business, Politics, and the State in Africa: Challenging the Orthodoxies on Growth and Transformation
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