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The Concept of Neopatrimonialism

The major components of the concept of neopatrimonialism come down to the fact that a regime either instituted or run under the concept is more likely to be governed at the top by a strong personality and less likely to be governed by an abstract concept such as the rule of law (Bratton & Van de Walle, 1994). What is referred to as "personal patronage," not "ideology or law," is the determining factor of political life in a neopatrimonial regime. In such a regime, in other words, the figure of the ruler is valorized, not precisely what he rules on, or even the content of rule. The commonplace that (say) the United States is governed by the rule of law and not of men is completely and programmatically reversed in the idea of neopatrimonial rule.

In their article on the concept of patrimonialism, Bratton and Van de Walle suggest that "a few tentative trends" in the regime politics of Africa could be used to test their ideas of the resiliency of neopatrimonialism and its opposite--regime change--in Africa. They say that "consolidated democracy" will less likely follow "personal dictatorship" than it will reform of one-party politics. In other words, the more generally inclusive the regime, the more likely a progressive political structure is to evolve from the previous regime. Oppositional political institutions, not rule by personal fiat, is the condition for more participatory politics. Military regimes, which feature elite but not mass political competition, do not really offer an alternative, and "transitions from dictatorial and plebiscitary regimes" do not regulate political conflict because they leave out the key presence of political institutions that can absorb such conflict. The core idea is to "routinize" political participation on an institutional scale. That means not just masses against elites but systematically structured political entities that conceptualize politics as pluralistic rather than uniquely power-based--part...

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The Concept of Neopatrimonialism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:17, July 11, 2020, from