in: Africa Spectrum (55) 3, 291-320
Attempts to circumvent presidential term limits in African countries show a puzzling variation of success or failure. This variation is due to both international and domestic factors. However, how these interact is not yet well understood. This article analyses how international donors and organisations intervened in the attempted term limit circumvention in Malawi from 1999 to 2003. It differentiates between different types of instruments used by donors in democracy promotion, and, by doing so, contributes to the question whether donors in term limit struggles can contribute to genuine democratic consolidation. It employs deductive process-tracing based on an analysis of primary media sources and interviews conducted during field research. The results show that erosion of party support as a proximate and a strong civil society response as a mediate factor were important in saving Malawi’s term limit. Aid conditionality and democracy promotion by donors and international organisations exerted influence on both factors.