Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

Degree Name



Political Science

First Advisor

F.S.J. Ledgister, Ph.D


A democratic system of government has become analogous with peace, economic prosperity, and political stability (no coup d’état). This observation generally holds true for advanced liberal democracies, but not for those democracies and emerging democracies in West Africa. Given the dismal condition of both economic prosperity and political stability, it seems as if the liberal democratic model is unable to uphold prosperity and stability in West Africa.

However, despite similarities in experience of the sixteen countries in the sub-region, since attaining independence, only Senegal and Cape Verde remain relatively prosperous, and more significantly, coup-less (no successful coups) and relatively stable. Within this background the inquiry therefore becomes, despite similar experiences, what explains the different outcome: the outcome of high level of political instability coupling with low level of democratic consolidation indicative of the sub-region, against considerable democratization and political stability in Senegal and Cape Verde? This trajectory becomes perplexing enough to warrant further study, thus, the central purpose of this dissertation.

In explaining this conundrum, the dissertation focuses on Senegal. It is this study's position that the liberal democratic model cannot fully explain political stability in Senegal. Therefore, the study suggests that what explains political stability in Senegal is referred to in this study as the Democarassie model (the Senegalese model of democracy). Despite the Democarassie model's grounding in the liberal democratic tradition, the model acknowledges and accommodates Senegal's unique reality. In the case of Senegal, this unique reality is referred to in this study as "Establishments", all headed by "Customary Authorities." Together these establishments and their customary authorities play an intricate role in maintaining democracy and political stability. Considering the far reaching powers and influence of the customary authorities over the demos, the Democarassie model seems to exhibit the hallmarks of a flawed or pseudo-democracy. Nonetheless, the Democarassie model promotes self-rule and self-determination, allowing citizens the luxury to genuinely participate in choosing and holding their leaders accountable.

With an exploratory qualitative case study analysis, the study examines the implications of the Democarassie model on political stability in Senegal. This examination reveals the indispensable role of customary authorities in upholding a unique democratic system that in turn upholds political stability in Senegal.

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