Ultranationalism, democracy and the law: insights from Côte d'Ivoire

2017-05-19T11:36:08Z (GMT) by Giulia Piccolino
Although much has been written about the ideology of Laurent Gbagbo's Front Populaire Ivoirien in Côte d'Ivoire and its impact on the Ivorian politico-military crisis, little attention has been paid to the ubiquitous role of the law in the discourse and political strategy of the pro-Gbagbo elite. The Ivorian case may provide important insights about the connection between ultranationalist ideology and a legalist, formalist conception of democracy and national sovereignty. The article analyses the circumstances of the emergence of 'legalist nationalism' in Côte d'Ivoire by looking at key episodes of the Ivorian transition between 2002 and 2012. The article discusses the relevance of Pierre Englebert's concept of 'legal command' and the turbulences of democratic transitions in accounting for the prominence of legalism in Ivorian politics. It explores the implications of the Ivorian case for understanding the connection between law and politics in Africa. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014.