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Pre And Post Dictatorship Comparison

  • 07 Pages
  • Published On: 28-11-2023
Pre and post dictatorship comparison: The experience of Malawi and Mali


Malawi became a republic in 1966, whose president was Hastings Kamuzu Banda; his rule has often been compared to a dictatorship and an autocracy (Geddes, et al., 2018). He was in office till 1994, four years before he died. He was defeated in elections held for the first time in 1994 after which Malawi has adopted a multi-party democratic system. This background of pre and post dictatorship makes it an appropriate country for case study for this research. In the post dictatorship period, it has been suggested that the elite in Malawi have constructed political settlement to establish a social contract with the general population to sustain social conciliation while the political governance arrangement remains less‐than‐democratic; the suggestion is that in the post dictatorship period as well transition to democracy is not effected so far (Cammack, 2017). Indeed, academic freedoms in Malawi have been severely curtailed even after democracy was adopted and is one of the areas on which citizen groups have continued to protest against in Malawi (Johnson, 2020). There are also concerns about subversion of democratic elections in Malawi especially related to the 2014 elections as well as the 2019 elections (Johnson, 2020). These events mean that Malawi offers an appropriate case study for analysing the pre and post dictatorship scenario through comparison. Whatsapp Mali was a dictatorship under President Moussa Traore until the 26 March 1991 Malian coup d'état after which Mali adopted multi-party democracy (Harmon, 2016). It has been argued that the transition to democracy by Mali has been affected by the authoritarian armies and the interaction between military rule and ethnic stacking (Allen, 2019). As most African countries have military regimes that are ethnically stacked, the transition to democracy has been affected by the interaction between the military and the ethnic stacking; it is argued that for the stable democratic rule non-military-led regimes that do not ethnically stack their armies are advisable (Allen, 2019). Indeed, it has been noted that many post dictatorship transitions are still outstanding in Mali as of 2017; this includes administration of justice and human rights (Sears, 2017). Like Malawi, Mali too offers an appropriate case study to analyse how pre and post dictatorship situation can be compared. The significance of this topic is that even though countries may move from dictatorship to democracy, there may be difficulties in transition to democracy in complete sense as also signified by the work done by Linz and Stepan (1996) who write about post-totalitarian state as a kind of dictatorship due to the hybrid nature of governance that involves both democratic and dictatorial governance. The question in this study is whether Malawi and Mali exhibit difficulties in transitioning to democracy due to the hybrid nature of their post dictatorship regimes. Some research studies have explored the different ways in which transition to democracy is effected in Malawi and Mali. This dissertation seeks to add to this body of literature by focussing on the factors that have affected such transition from the point of view of the nature of the post dictatorial society. Examples of the effect of dictatorship on different aspects of people’s lives in these countries and its consequent impact on the transition to democracy can be found in the literature. In Malawi, the people’s acceptance of democracy has been linked to their levels of education with Evans and Rose (2007) suggesting that as education is assumed to be an important influence on the understanding and endorsement of democracy by its citizens. They argue that newly made democracies may have relatively low levels of educational provisions and this may have an effect on support for democratic government in Malawi (Evans & Rose, 2007). They report that the findings from the national survey indicates that primary schooling promotes citizen endorsement of democracy (Evans & Rose, 2007). The link between the public office and private work has also been explored in one study (Anders, 2002). Private, or individualised realm as opposed to public office has been explored to find that the effects of public office are far reaching on individuals in post dictatorial societies like Malawi (Anders, 2002). It can be argued that in a post dictatorial society like Malawi, civil servants by virtue of their proximity to the state still hold much power even in a democratic set up, which has impacts on the lives of the private citizens (Anders, 2002). Literature relating to Mali’s transition to democracy also reveals some findings that may lead to questions on how post dictatorial societies experience transition to democracy. In Mali, one of the questions that was asked early on in its transition to democracy was whether the rather rapid transition from an autocracy to a democracy allowed the important development of a democratic and participatory culture which would allow it to develop stronger institutions (Vengroff, 1993). This question becomes relevant in the more recent experience of Mali with the rise or Jihadi takeover of territories within Mali due to the support of some local groups; a question may be raised as to whether there is some alienation within some groups and if so whether this can be related to the lack of participation in democracy (Benjaminsen & Ba, 2019). In this research, Benjaminsen and Ba (2019) specifically note the issue of the land-use conflicts and the power vacuum after state withdrawal, “first in the transition to democracy in the early 1990s and more recently with the jihadist expansion” (p. 5). There may be valid questions about how the practices around rent seeking by the state established in the autocratic period affects the transition to democracy in the post dictatorial period as is seen in the case of Mali where continued rent seeking is also considered to be one of the notable experiences of people in transition to democracy phase.

Research questions

The overarching research question in this study relates to the comparison between pre and post dictatorship in Malawi and Mali in the context of transition to democracy.


Qualitative method:

In this research, the researcher will use qualitative research methodology. Qualitative research methods are appropriate for research subjects that are multi-layered and require in depth research (Green, et al., 2011). In this section, the characteristics of qualitative research that make this method ideal for this dissertation are discussed. First, to briefly explain what qualitative research entails, it is the kind of research which involves data collection of non-numerical nature (Creswell, 2013, p. 44). This is exactly opposite to quantitative research, which is based on numerical data collection and analysis. While quantitative research can be useful for research studies where the researcher seeks to quantify attitudes, behaviours, and other defined variables, it is not appropriate for research studies where the researcher seeks to explore a phenomenon in depth or gain more insight into different layers around the phenomenon. The numerical nature of the quantitative research study also makes it more rigid in design, whereas qualitative research methods are flexible and are able to explore the multiple perspectives and multi-layered information around the subject area (Willis & Jost, 2007). Qualitative research design does not require the formulation of a hypothesis and instead research questions can be used by the researcher to explore answers (Willis & Jost, 2007). This is appropriate for this research as the researcher aims to explore answers to the overarching research question which is related to the comparison between pre and post dictatorship in Malawi and Mali in the context of transition to democracy. In this study, the researcher is exploring the area of post dictatorship politics in Malawi and Mali and comparing the pre dictatorship with post dictatorship situation with reference to transition to democracy in these countries and how this transition is impacted by different factors in these countries. This is a complex area of research because it probes and compares two different periods, that is pre and post dictatorship, to understand how factors relevant to both periods impact the transition to democracy. Qualitative research method will be useful because it will allow the researcher to explore the different aspects or themes that are involved. It will be also useful to consider the disadvantages of qualitative research at this stage so that the researcher can address these prior to commencing the research. The first point of concern is that qualitative data is prone to subjectivity which relates not just to the data itself but also to its analysis; subjectivity of qualitative data has led to concerns of whether there is reliability and validity of the data and its analysis (Perrin, 2015). Furthermore, as qualitative research design is flexible and does not follow a rigid protocol, concerns about subjectivity may also be related to researcher bias in data collection and analysis (Perrin, 2015). In this research study, these concerns about qualitative method are resolved through the use of systematic literature review with thematic analysis method. Using the systematic review method is useful for the researcher to address the concerns around bias while selecting data. It also helps the researcher to address concerns about the unsystematic nature of the qualitative research method as compared with the more systematic process in quantitative research (Perrin, 2015). Because the systematic review involves a step wise process, the issues and concerns around unsystematic data collection can be addressed. Deductive approach: Deductive approach involves a method by which the researcher applies a general theory to a specific case or context. In this process, the researcher will start with a theory that is identified at the start of the researcher, then based on that theory, the researcher will develop a hypothesis or research questions. Then the researcher will collect observations related to the hypothesis, and will then confirm the theory through the data collected and analysed (Perrin, 2015, p. 81). The present research involves a deductive approach because the researcher will raise the research questions based on the existing theory on post dictatorship regimes where democracy may be impeded because of the hybrid form of governance model as suggested by Linz and Stepan (1996). This theory will inform the building up of the researcher questions and the collection of the data. In this study, the researcher aims to collect data through a literature review in order to see whether it conforms with the theory on post dictatorship regimes. Descriptive and explanatory: Descriptive research design is concerned with representing people, events or situations (Saunders, et al., 2012). Descriptive research design is not concerned with the explanation of the relationship between variables, but with the reporting of the descriptive data (Basham, et al., 2016). However, to find out more about how certain factors may have impacted the transition to democracy in Malawi and Mali, the researcher will also adopt the explanatory research method. The purpose of explanatory research is to explain the relationship between variables (Saunders, et al., 2012). Explanatory research can also be used by the researcher to provide an explanation on causes and effects (Leavy, 2017). Analytical research method allows the researcher to analyse the data critically. This research will use both a descriptive research design and an analytical research design. A descriptive research design is used with the emphasis on providing description on the topic through method of data collected by a literature review. This data will be collected from books, articles in journals and databases, reports of institutions and bodies, and news reports. Descriptive research can be used for obtaining information, without having to test or verify the information (Monsen & Horn, 2008, p. 5). The descriptive research methodology would allow the researcher to gather information about the existing conditions (Sevilla, Ochave, Punsalan, Regala, & Uriarte, 2007, p. 94). Explanatory research methodology will allow the researcher to explain the relationship between variables. The analytical research method will allow the researcher to analyse the information in a critical context and as a part of the interpretative philosophical method, which allows the researcher to analyse the meaning of the data in a contextual or theoretical sense (Myers, 2013). Case study: Case study is an in-depth inquiry into a topic (Yin, 2009). The method of case study can be a useful method of qualitative research (Myers, 2013). It allows the researcher to study the characteristics of a single unit and gain insight into that unit; in this case there are two units, Mali and Malawi that are being explored (Bryman & Bell, 2015). The benefit of case study method is that it can help the researcher achieve in-depth information about the events being explored as well as the reason and the effects of the events. Case study can also provide a prelude to a more detailed research (Yin, 2009). In the current research, case study method will be applied to carry out a focussed and in depth study into the factors that are relevant to the experience of transition to democracy in two selected countries, Malawi and Mali, with reference to the pre and post dictatorship period. This is undertaken to provide greater insight into how these factors have impacted the transition to democracy in these countries. Case studies can be used in research studies for descriptive and explanatory purposes in addition to its exploratory purposes (Yin, 2009). For a case study, there is a need to collect and analyse information about the case by an underpinning of theory (Vaus & Vaus, 2001, p. 221). In this research, case studies are used by selecting two countries, Malawi and Mali and the researcher will be exploring the phenomenon of transition to democracy in the post dictatorship period and the constraints on the transition that can be linked back to the pre dictatorship period, essentially involving a comparison between the two periods. Systematic Literature Review: Systematic literature review is has been defined as a method that allows the researcher to collate “all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria in order to answer a specific research question” (Green, et al., 2011, p. 6). A systematic review would require the researcher to first create pre-specified eligibility criteria which would be used to identify the relevant literature as per this criteria. Literature is to be identified from various sources including peer reviewed journal articles, books, reports. The researcher uses electronic data base where the eligibility criteria decided prior to the search for literature can be used for filtering the search and selecting the most appropriate literature for the current research study (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). The purpose of the systematic review is to locate literature on the pre and post dictatorship in Malawi and Mali in the context of transition to democracy so that the factors that affected the transition can be identified and evaluated. This can help the researcher to identify the inclusion criteria for the systematic review, which in this case is to identify literature that explores or critiques the transition to democracy process in Mali and Malawi. The inclusion criteria can be the literature that relates to Malawi/Mali, includes discussion on transition to democracy in these two countries, includes discussion on both pre and post dictatorship regimes, and its full text is available for reading. There are many advantages of conducting a systematic literature review, which makes it appropriate for this research study. Systematic review is preferred because while it is a qualitative data collection method, it does provide a systematic and organised process of collecting the data. Because the researcher has to first identify the inclusion criteria and the exclusion criteria, which is then used to filter search on chosen databases, this process becomes organised and scientific. There are advantages to this in qualitative studies. First, the method allows the researcher to locate and screen all the relevant available studies on a given topic of research (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). Second, review is concerned with identification of high-quality literature (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). Third, the researcher has to take into consideration all the search results that fall into the inclusion criteria and avoid all those that fall into the exclusion criteria, which allows the weeding out of irrelevant literature but also ensures that the researcher is not able to ignore all the literature that is within the inclusion criteria. This also means that the researcher bias is eliminated (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). Order Now A stage wise process is to be followed for systematic review. In the first stage, the researcher uses key words to search for the relevant literature on the databases. The key words can be used in online databases such as Wiley Online Library and Google Scholar or any other electronic database chosen by the researcher. In the first stage, certain literature will be identified by the search engine as matching the keywords, however all of this literature will not be useful or relevant to the researcher. In the second stage, the researcher uses a sifting process to identify amongst the search results, that literature that is the most appropriate for the research at hand. The sifting process can be done by reading through the abstracts of the studies as this will help the researcher to weed out the literature that are not relevant (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). In the current study, the researcher will read the abstracts to identify the journal articles that the closest to the research questions posed and are persuasive in their methodology. Therefore, as part of this research methodology, the researcher will employ a systematic literature review. This method will involve the exploration of literature in journals, academic books, and relevant reports (Green, et al., 2011). For the purpose of literature review, the researcher will use electronic data bases. Electronic online databases are useful because the researcher can locate sources concerning different jurisdictions as the databases are generally exhaustive. Systematic literature review is preferred because this allows the researcher to access high-quality literature (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012). The data collected from the systematic review will be analysed as per the thematic analysis method, which will see the researcher organising the data under recurrent themes identified in the data (Bearman & Dawson, 2013). Thus, the meta synthesis of the data and findings can be done by the researcher in this manner.


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