Elite Political Instability Still a Major Problem in Sub-Saharan Africa

Jay Ulfelder over at Dart-Throwing Chimp is at it again forecasting likely coup events in 2013. The one thing that jumps at you from his global relative coup risk map (see below) is Sub-Saharan Africa’s over-representation in the highest risk category of states. ImageWhy does Sub-Saharan Africa have much higher relative levels of predicted elite political instability?

The political science literature has varied answers including: high levels of poverty, state incapacity, high levels of ethnic fractionalization and or polarization, limited state consolidation due to having relatively young states, etc.

Jay’s forecast, like recent events in Eritrea, South Sudan, Sudan, Mali, the DRC, CAR, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, is a reminder that there is no escaping the reality of state under-development in Africa. It also suggests that despite our best efforts the process of achieving state-ness in Africa will be a messy affair that will at best only be mildly ameliorated, if not made worse, by inconsistent and contradictory meddling by major world powers. Even the magic wand of political democracy might not be of much help in this regard.