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Dominant African parties : a historical sociology of the PDG in Gabon and the RPT in Togo


KeywordsTriple Keywords
Political power
Empowerment (Social sciences)
Power (Social sciences)
Parties, Political
Political party systems
Political parties
Party systems, Political
Concept formation
Historical sociology
Notions (Philosophy)
Political opposition
Opposition (Political science)


To understand the domination and the grip on power of some political parties in sub-Saharan Africa, we must go beyond the classic labeling and have a deeper look at how they function in practice. In this regard, this thesis, which is based on an ethnographic survey carried out in several localities of Gabon and Togo aims to understand by what concrete means and according to what modalities, the Gabones Democratic Party and the Rally of the Togose People historically constitute themselves as dominant parties. Why have managed to remain in power since the end of the 1960s. I use the concept of "dominant party" developed by Maurice Duverger in order to reflect the primacy of these two parties in the national political arena. I also adopt a historical sociology approach borrowed especially from Bernard Pudal and Yves Deloye to highlight the social properties of the leaders of these two parties. "Because it obliges the researcher to historicize his reasoning and to take into account the dead hand of the past", historical sociology makes it possible toIIIobserve the different phases of the formation and institutionalization of this political parties. By using this approach, I demonstrate how these parties have acquired a partisan label, how they function and concretely finance their activities as well as the relations they maintain with other political parties. Covering a long period (1960-2020), this study shows how these political parties have been able to gradually foreclose the national political arena and to relegate other parties to the second rank. Despite their proven primacy within the society, the Gabones Demcratic Party is regularly affected by dissident currents due to a lack of internal democracy and an unequal distribution. These exits ensure the renewal of the opposition elites. In the Rally of the Togolese People, on the other hand, partisan authorianism does not affect again the loyalty of cadre to the party and its president.

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