South Africa’s Resilient Democracy

Issue Date April 2022
Volume 33
Issue 2
Page Numbers 103–17
file Print
arrow-down-thin Download from Project MUSE
external View Citation

Read the full essay here.

During a period of rising authoritarian populism around the globe, South Africa stands out as a surprising democratic success story. For example, the 2021 local-government elections were the most competitive yet in the postapartheid era, defying early predictions of long-term, single-party domination. And for more than a quarter-century, citizens have been able to positively influence policy and the quality of governance. To be sure, the country has serious longstanding challenges and burdens, and the prospects for upheaval loom large. Nonetheless, South Africa’s multiracial democracy offers a powerful example of what is possible with well-designed democratic institutions.

About the Authors

Evan Lieberman

Evan Lieberman is professor of political science and holds the Total Chair on Contemporary Africa at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His book, Until We Have Won Our Liberty: South Africa After Apartheid, is forthcoming. 

View all work by Evan Lieberman

Rorisang Lekalake

Rorisang Lekalake is a doctoral candidate in political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research explores the politics of land inequality in Southern Africa.

View all work by Rorisang Lekalake