n Africa Insight - Ethnic politics and party development in Nigeria

Volume 45, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The conventional wisdom that democracy progress is contingent on cleavages within ethnicity, and not between ethnicities, characterises the study of democracy in multi-ethnic states. As a consequence, we have lost sight of the usefulness of ethnic politics in the analysis of democracy development in divided societies. Using an historical-comparative approach, this article attempts to recover ethno-nationalism as a useful category for explaining party development. It examines party development from 1960-2015 in Nigeria to demonstrate how ethno-nationalism presses forward competitive party politics. The article concludes that an alternative could be ethno-nationalism laid the foundation for the progression towards 'party government' which is the predominant institutional form of contemporary democracy.

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