Stellenbosch University | Political Science



Prof. Nicola de Jager

Tel: +27 21 808 2107

South African politics; comparative southern African politics; political culture; religion and political development; dominant party systems; democracy; liberation movements.


BA Hons (University of Stellenbosch); MA (University of Stellenbosch); PhD (University of Pretoria)


Southern African politics; South African politics; comparative politics and democracy.


Nicola de Jager (PhD in Political Science, University of Pretoria) is an associate professor at the Department of Political Science. From January 2018 until December 2022, she served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Commonwealth and Comparative Politics. She is a C2 rated researcher with the National Research Foundation (NRF) and was a fellow of the African-Oxford (AfOx) programme at Oxford University. Formerly a research associate of the Transformation Research Unit (TRU); a research unit focused on projects dealing with transformations from autocracy to democracy and the reverse, conditions for the persistence of democracy, and the quality of government. Nicola has edited two books: South African Politics published by Oxford University Press and Friend or Foe? Dominant party systems in southern Africa (co-editor Prof. Pierre du Toit) published by UCT Press and the UNU Press. She has published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Democratization, Journal of Modern African Studies, Third World Quarterly, Politikon, Taiwan Journal of Democracy and the Journal of Contemporary African Studies on topics of comparative politics, religion and politics, democratisation, South African politics, and southern African politics.

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Understanding the influence of Christianity and democratic development, with a focus on South Africa’s democratic development.



De Jager, N. (ed.) 2021. South African Politics: An introduction, second edition. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

De Jager, N. (ed.) 2015. South African Politics: An Introduction. Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

De Jager, N. and Du Toit, P. (eds.) 2013. Friend or Foe? Dominant party systems in Southern Africa: Insights from the developing world. United Nations University Press and UCT Press.

Book Reviews

Nicola de Jager. 2022. Review of Marriages of Inconvenience: The Politics of Coalitions in South Africa, edited by S. Booysen, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), Johannesburg. In Journal of Africans Elections, Vol. 21 (1):149

Articles in Refereed Journals

Fredericks, J and de Jager, N. 2022. An analysis of the historical roots of partisan governance within the ANC: Understanding the road to state capturePolitikon, 49 (1):21-42.

Fölscher, M., de Jager, N. and Nyenhuis, R. 2021. Populist parties shifting the political discourse? A case study of the Economic Freedom Fighters in South AfricaJournal of Modern African Studies, 59(4): 535-558.

De Jager, N. 2021. Sub-Saharan Africa’s desire for liberal democracy: civil society to the rescue? Third World Quarterly, 42 (8): 1885-1902.

De Jager, N. and De Jager, P. 2019. Evaluating the potential of Protestant Christianity to stimulate democracy and good governance in sub-Saharan Africa through the valuing of the individualDemocratization, 26 (2): 225-246.

De Jager, N. 2017. ‘Protestantism as Conducive and Syncretism as a Hindrance to South Africa’s Democratic Development,’ Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 13 (1): 13-33.

Van Beek, U. and de Jager, N. 2017. ‘South Africa in the regional context: The elusiveness of democratic consolidation,’ Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 13 (1):163-173.

De Jager, N. and Sebudubudu, D. 2017. ‘Towards understanding Botswana and South Africa’s ambivalence to liberal democracy,’ Journal of Contemporary African Studies, 35 (1):15-33.

De Jager, N. and Steenekamp, C.L. 2016. ‘The changing political culture of the African National Congress,’ Democratization, 23 (5): 919-939.

De Jager, N. and Musuva, C. 2016. ‘The influx of Zimbabweans into South Africa: a crisis of governance that spills over’. Africa Insight, 8(1): 15-30.

Hågensen, L. and de Jager, N. 2016. ‘Xenophobic attacks in South Africa: The case of De Doorns 2009’. Strategic Review, 38 (1): 107-125.

Du Toit, P. and de Jager, N. 2014. ‘South Africa’s Dominant-Party System in Comparative Perspective’. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 10 (2): 93-113.

De Jager, N. and Meintjes, C.H. 2013. ‘Winners, losers and the playing field in southern Africa’s ‘democratic darlings’: Botswana and South Africa compared. Politikon, 40(2): 233-253.

Hodzi, O., Hartwell, L. and de Jager, N. 2012. ‘Unconditional aid: Assessing the impact of China’s developmental assistance to Zimbabwe’. South Africa Journal of International Affairs, 19(1): 79-103.

Hopstock, N. and de Jager, N. 2011. ‘Understanding xenophobia in South Africa’. Strategic Review for Southern Africa, XXXIII (1):120-139.

De Jager, N. 2009. ‘No ‘New’ANC?’ Politikon, 36 (2): 275-288.

Book Chapters

De Jager, N. and Steenekamp, C. 2018. ‘Political Radicalism: Responding to the Legitimacy Gap in South Africa’. In Van Beek, U. (editor) Democracy under threat: A crisis of legitimacy? Palgrave

De Jager, N. and Parkin, A. 2017. ‘Whither the ANC’s dominance? Declining dominance, rising hegemony’. In Thuynsma, H. (editor) Political Parties. Johannesburg: HSRC and KAS.

De Jager, N. and Adams-Jack, U. 2017. Stellenbosch University’s ‘born-frees’: Responsibly engaged. In Lambrechts, D. and Fourie, P. Modern state development, capacity and institutions. Stellenbosch: SUNMedia.

De Jager, N. and Taylor, I. 2015. ‘Democratic contestation in Botswana’. In Metelits, C. and Matti, S. (editors) Democratic contestation on the margins: regimes in small African Countries. New York: Lexington Books.

De Jager, N. 2013. ‘South Africa: A democracy in the balance’ in De Jager, N. and Du Toit, P. Friend or Foe? Dominant party systems in Southern Africa: Insights from the developing world. Tokyo, New York & Paris: United Nations University Press and Cape Town: UCT Press.

Du Toit, P. and De Jager, N. 2013. ‘Conclusion: Resources and the politics of dominant party systems’ in De Jager, N. and Du Toit, P. Friend or Foe? Dominant party systems in Southern Africa: Insights from the developing world. Tokyo, New York & Paris: United Nations University Press and Cape Town: UCT Press.

De Jager, N. 2010. ‘Democracy in South Africa’s Dominant Party System’ in Lawson, K. (editor) Political Parties and Democracy. Santa Barbara, CA and Oxford, UK: Praeger.

Opinion Pieces in the Popular Media

This is a critical time to defend democracy and the powers of school governing bodies in education,(2022) by Liesl Pretorius and Nicola de Jager in The Daily Maverick.

Closing narratives in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic: The return of Lysenkoism? BizNews, 29 March 2022.

From Hong Kong to Canada, ‘do as I tell you’ governments risk trapping us in Covid Groundhog Day Phil C. W. Chan and Nicola de Jager, South China Morning Post, 26 March 2022.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s liberty deficit: can civil society help fill the gap? The Conversation, October 2021.

What does Comprehensive Sexuality Education say about the role of the state in South Africa? The Daily Maverick

Sex education raises questions about the role of the state in South Africa, The Conversation

‘State companies can’t help development if the state is a partisan player’, The Conversation

‘In free speech debates, consider Christianity’s history of liberalism’, The Conversation

‘Analysis: SA’s national elections since 1994’, Eyewit​​ness News

‘Why elections in Botswana and South Africa can be ‘free’ but not ‘fair’, Democracy in Africa

‘South Africa is in danger of becoming a radicalised society- again’, The Conversation


Fellow of the African-Oxford Program, University of Oxford (2018)
Rector’s Award for General performance (2014)
NRF Rated Researcher (since 2014)
Andrew Mellon Foundation Early Researcher Career Programme (MERC) (2011 -2013)
ERASMUS MUNDUS Action 2 SAPIENT scholarship (2011)
Golden Key Society (since 2010)

Recent Supervision of PhD Students and Topics 

Challenges Facing Anti-Corruption Mechanisms in Dominant Party Systems: A Case Study of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, 2004-2019’ by Ngqapheli Mchunu (current)

Parties of Pressure: Opposition parties in the dominant-party systems of Botswana and South Africa’ by Anna Christina Parkin (2022)

‘South African land reform as peacebuilding: integrating perspectives from Social Identity Theory and Symbolic Politics in a peacebuilding conceptual framework’ by Gert Young (2017)

‘International migration, xenophobia and the South African state’ by Catherine Musuva (2015)