Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Timothy Nordstrom

Relational Format



This thesis seeks to examine the role that decentralization and political parties have played in Senegalese democratization from colonial time to present. By examining five influential time periods in modem Senegalese history, this thesis investigates the evolving nature of the Senegalese political system in relation to its current democracy. The first chapter discusses Senegal’s colonial background and the legacy of centralization left by the French. Chapter two explores the decolonization process in Fiench West Africa and its specific impact on Senegal. The remainder of the thesis studies the terms of the three presidents that have led Senegal since its independence from France in 1960, beginning with Leopold Sedar Senghor and tlien his successor, Abdou Diouf. These two men mled Senegal for forty years and consolidated political power in the hands of the Parti Social]ste with only nominal decentralization for m.ost of their time in office. Towards the latter part of Diouf s mle, however, a gradual decentralization process was implemented, loosening the control of the Parti Socialiste and allowing for competition with other political parties, most importantly v/ith the Parti Democratique Senegalais. The final section then considers the impact of Senegal’s first transfer of power from the Parti Socialiste to the PartJ Democratique Senegalais under leader Abdoulaye Wade. As this study reveals, Senegal underwent a gradual democratization process. Increased levels of democracy accompanied decentralization of government powers and increased pally competition. The refomi.s of the current administration point towai'ds further democratic consolidation in Senegal.

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