Opposition in a hybrid regime: the functions of opposition parties in Burkina Faso and Uganda

Eloise Bertrand*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Despite growing interest in party politics in Africa, the activities and role of African opposition parties are still under explored, especially in the context of one-party dominant “hybrid” regimes where they are allowed to operate, but face a myriad of constraints. In these settings, opposition parties face a common dilemma: having to participate in the regime’s institutions and protest against them at the same time. Existing frameworks fail to provide a full and accurate picture of how opposition parties can erode the incumbent’s dominance and promote regime change. This article offers a novel functional framework, drawing from comparative research in Burkina Faso and Uganda. It identifies a set of three functions that opposition parties perform within a hybrid regime: denunciation, mobilization of dissent, and succession signalling. Understanding opposition parties’ functions in a hybrid regime through this alternative framework enables us to reconcile the seemingly contradictory behaviour of opposition parties that work both within and against the status quo, and to better evaluate their role in this setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)591-610
JournalAfrican Affairs
Issue number481
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021


  • opposition parties
  • party functions
  • hybrid regimes
  • Burkina Faso
  • Uganda


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