Botswana’s Dominant Party System: Determinants in the Decision to Vote for the Ruling Party

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has dominated other political
parties in every election since independence in 1966. Debates on factors
that account for the dominance of the BDP typically point to weakness of
opposition parties, lack of party funding, the electoral system and advantages
of incumbency enjoyed by the ruling party. Using performance-based
theory, this article contributes to the debate by empirically examining if
citizens’ vote for the BDP is based on some selected variables. It aims to
find out if Batswana’s voting intentions are determined by an assessment
of the economy, democracy, corruption perception, and institutional trust,
among others. The study makes use of the 2014 Afrobarometer data, and
logistic regression models were used to analyse the data. Therefore the main
contribution of this article is the utilisation of empirical data to explain the
vote for the ruling party. Theories of voting behaviour suggest that incumbent
governments are likely to be voted back into office when they are perceived as
performing well in the economy, are trustworthy and not corrupt. This begs
the question why some incumbent governments are voted back into office
despite poor performance in the economy, declining institutional trust and
rising corruption. The article finds that the BDP’s dominance is attributable
to its good performance in governance and economic management. The data
reveals that Batswana are rational voters, whose voting intentions are based
on a careful assessment of the economic performance of BDP government,
attitudes towards corruption level and trust in institutions. The paper also shows that even though Botswana enjoys some good international scores on governance and corruption, citizens perceive that there has been an increase in the number of leaders and organisations involved in corruption. The study
has also found that trust is high but decreasing for the ruling party, and low
but increasing for opposition parties.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: Botswana, institutional performance theory, party system, political parties, voting behaviour, voting intentions
journal of african elections vol16 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa