Studies analyzing dictators’ duration in power do not generally distinguish the way through which rulers are booted out. In consequence, a destabilizing effect is attributed to some variables without specifying and testing the mechanisms through which this effect may operate. In this paper, we argue that ‘regular’ leadership changes stem from the incumbent’s incapacity to thwart elite defection and opposition groups coordination through the use of patronage, whereas, ‘irregular’ changes are mainly brought about by economic collapse and the widespread of poverty. We also analyze the patterns behind the steady institutionalization of African politics. Data from all African countries between 1946 (or the year of independence) and 2000 permit us to put such general hypotheses under scrutiny and confirm them using multinomial logistic duration regressions. It is also shown that foreign pressure, aid conditionality and domestic opposition have been the major determinants of institutionalization of African dictatorships, making, thus, possible the decrease in the number of irregular ousters.
Key words: Regular leadership changes, irregular changes, Africa, institutionalization.
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