Traditional democratic institutions have not easily taken root in African soil. Too often, attempts at cultivating democratic norms have foundered, leaving anarchy or authoritarianism. What, then, are the chances that South Africa's transition from apartheid to democracy will endure?

With this question in mind, South African political scientist Pierre du Toit probes the conditions under which democracy can grow. He examines three southern African states that, despite similarities, have very different track records: Botswana, perhaps the most successful democracy in continental Africa; Zimbabwe, where a partial democracy is faltering; and South Africa, just beginning it's bold experiment.

Weighing the impact of each country's heritage, ethnic composition, and economic circumstances, du Toit demonstrates that democratic outcomes depend on the nature and strength of the state. Democratic practices are embedded in a broader network of state and societal instiutions; only if these institutions are robust and resilient can democracy flourish.

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