Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Donley T Studlar

Committee Co-Chair

Robert D Duval

Committee Member

Stephen W Howard

Committee Member

Tamba E M'bayo

Committee Member

Philip A Michelbach


There has been an upsurge in the movement towards democracy in developing countries since the end of the Cold War, which has led former autocratic regimes to embrace values of good governance as they transition to democracy (Huntington, 1991: 21-26). Democratic triumphalism has even led some scholars to declare the "end of history" due to the absence of alternative political systems that rival Western democracy (Fukuyama, 2006). The so-called "third wave" of democratization has been aided by multilateral institutions, international aid agencies and Western democratic governments, which since the 1990s have used democratization and good governance as collateral for foreign aid, as well as a yardstick to measure the legitimacy of regimes (Carothers, 1999: 40-41). Among the major foundations of democracy advanced by theorists are competition and contestation (Huntington, 1991: 6), which means the acquisition of power must be preceded by a contest among political parties. In sub-Saharan African countries, the main argument for the adoption of democratic forms of government put forward by international institutions and domestic actors alike is that stable multi-party systems provides multiple avenues for citizens to participate broadly in the political process, and by so doing, lay the foundation for the institutionalization of democracy and good governance.;In Sierra Leone, a new constitution was adopted in 1991 that made provision for a multi-party system and a Single Member District (SMD) electoral system as key ingredients of a democracy that produces good governance. Due to the need to hold representative elections even during the war, the SMD system was substituted by the PR system in 1996. When the war ended in 2002, the SMD system was reinstated but subsequent elections show gradual decline in the number of smaller parties that win parliamentary seats. In this dissertation, I aim to find out the extent to which the attainment of multi-party democracy may be constrained by the choice of the SMD systems in Sub Saharan Africa. Specifically, I hypothesize that larger District Magnitudes (DM - i.e., the number of electoral seats per constituency) lead to the formation of ethnically based two party systems, whereas lower district magnitude lead to the formation of multi-party systems. Through longitudinal analysis of election results in Sierra Leone from 1996--2002, I aim to show: first, the extent to which changes in district magnitude influence ethnicity or facilitates the formation or deepening of ethno-political cleavages in the diverse societies of Africa. Second, whether such cleavages in turn influence party system outcomes in Sub-Saharan African countries, and third, the extent to which changes in party systems influence democratization and governance in Sierra Leone. Finally, I extend Lipjhart's typologies (party systems and electoral systems only) in "Patterns of Democracy," as alternative paths that sub Saharan African countries could follow in their quest to attain democracy and good governance.;I expect findings that show that PR systems have multiplicative effects on smaller parties whereas SMD systems have a reductive effect on smaller parties. Since current theories show that political parties in Sub-Saharan Africa tend to reflect existing ethno-political cleavage structures, this study will clarify the relationship between party systems, electoral system, and ethnicity and the implications of such relationships for the institutionalization of democracy and good governance in Sub-Saharan Africa. Furthermore, I expect findings that show no significant difference in governance based on a country's party system, which is intriguing given that a recent study finds and points to the significance of such a difference (Janda and Kwak, 2012).