The Key to One-Party Dominance: A Comparative Analysis of Selected States: Some Lessons for South Africa

Since the ascent to power of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 the concept of one-party dominance has dominated the South African political landscape. It is argued that the magnitude of the ANC’s victories in four consecutive elections raises questions about whether South Africa is headed for a one-party dominant political system achieved through democratic rather than authoritarian means – a feat achieved by only a few political parties in the past century. The argument in this article is that the ascension to power of parties which have attained dominance has been preceded by extraordinary circumstances prevailing within their states and that it was the successful involvement of these parties in resolving these circumstances that was responsible for their victory in subsequent elections. However, other factors also contributed to the continued electoral success of the parties. The ANC also traces its ascension to power back to the extraordinary circumstances that prevailed in South Africa and which the party assisted in resolving. This article assesses the possibility that the ANC will attain dominance in the South African body politic as parties in other countries have done. This necessitates a study of the factors the parties exploited in order to be continuously voted into power. The ANC emerged victorious from South Africa’s fourth non-racial democratic election in 2009, a victory that moved the party closer to fulfilling the criteria of a dominant party – winning four consecutive elections and holding power for 20 years or more.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: African National Congress (ANC), Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), Christian Democratic Party (Democrazia Cristiana, DC), Indian National Congress (Congress), Mifleget Poalei Eretz Yisrael (Mapai), Social Democratic Party (SDP)