JAE Volume 6 Number 1, June 2007

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Editors: Denis Kadima & Khabele Matlosa
Copy Editor: Pat Tucker

Contributors: Peter Vale, Albert Domson-Lindsay, Sulaiman Kura, Victor Shale, Mohamed Salih & Abdalla Hamdok, Norbert Kersting, Maxi Schoeman, Charles Puttergill, Ernest T Mallya, Lesley Blaauw, Patrick Vander Weyden

Key terms: Future, Electoral, Studies, Critique, Democracy, West, Southern, Africa, Contemporary, Political, Parties, Institutionalisation, Sustainability, Democracy, Opposition, Alliances, Elections, Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Inclusive, System, Reform, Agenda, Voter Turnout, Rules, Infrastructure, Voting Behaviour, South Africa, Local, Government, 2006, Youth, Political Economy, Tanzania, Measuring, Support, Namibia, Intrinsic, Instrumental, Founding, DRC, Fragmented, Review, Democratic Reform in Africa: Its Impact on Governance and Poverty Alleviation, Muna Ndulo.

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What Future for Electoral Studies?: A Critique

Peter Vale

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Peter Vale is Nelson Mandela Professor of Politics at Rhodes University. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa and a Member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf).

ABSTRACT: Using approaches drawn from critical theory this paper explores the idea of electoral studies from historical and contemporary perspectives. It argues that the techniques used in electoral studies - in Southern African and elsewhere - have been corroded by neo-liberal economics and therefore by the rote and routine of management studies. Electoral studies might secure individual security and so promote governance by becoming more relevant to the lives and everyday struggles of the region's citizens.

Democracy and Security in West and Southern Africa

Albert Domson-Lindsay

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Dr Domson-Lindsay is a critical social theorist/free-lance researcher in Swaziland and a former doctoral scholar and occasional lecturer in the Politics and International Studies Dept, Rhodes University, South Africa

ABSTRACT: This paper offers a comparative analysis of security and democracy in West and Southern Africa. It examines the popular notion that political liberalism leads to security, maintaining that it is too elitist, statist and exclusive to offer socio-economic security to all the regions' peoples. The paper shows that state-driven regional institutions stifle public participation in their decision-making and implementation processes. So, to attain a harmonious balance between democracy and security, this paper proposes an institutionalised democratic ethos anchored in a discursive or deliberative culture. This will ensure the interests of all: people, state and capital.

Contemporary African Political Parties: Institutionalisation for the Sustainability of Democracy

Sulaiman Balarabe Kura

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Sulaiman Balarabe Kura is with the International Development Department, Priorsfield, University of Birmingham

ABSTRACT: Political parties are the custodians of democracy. Following the return of democracy to Africa during the 'third' and 'fourth' waves, political parties are undergoing structural changes (from military and one-party authoritarianism to liberal multiparty systems) for the development of sustainable democracy. This paper is not about institutionalised political parties or party systems, it is about understanding the historical development of political parties and their transformational nature in relation to the development of democracy in Africa. The paper therefore identifies some critical challenges that are threatening the institutionalisation process of the parties. These include party funding and finance, party ideology, the dominant-party syndrome, ineffective civil society opposition and problems of fragile electoral institutions. The paper argues that though these problems are part of the wider socio-political and economic dilemmas inherent in Africa they are more pervasive and have a devastating affect on political parties as instruments of modern representative democracy. The paper thus contends that, given the main concerns and attributes of good governance, it is the only panacea that can wholly address the institutional problems of political parties as well as other structural and institutional obstacles to the development of sustainable democracy in Africa. Good governance is presumed here to be the ideal and pragmatic solution to such institutional obstacles.

Opposition Party Alliances and Elections in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia

Victor Shale

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Victor Shale is a Researcher at EISA and EISA's Political Parties Programme Coordinator. He is also a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Political Science of the University of South Africa

ABSTRACT: The Southern African Development Community has made significant democratic progress since the 1990s following a wave of ferocious internal conflicts, as in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In order for the achievements to be sustained the region requires viable political parties, which are key role players in a democracy. The majority of the current ruling parties in the SADC region such as the African National Congress, the Botswana Democratic Party, Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (Frelimo), the Lesotho Congress for Democracy, Zambia's Movement for Multiparty Democracy and the South West Africa People's Organisation are very powerful, while opposition parties are fragmented and generally weak. However, a trend has developed for opposition parties, having recognised their limitations, to form alliances in order to play a meaningful role. This route has been followed by opposition parties in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia. On the eve of the recent general elections in Lesotho and Zambia, parties negotiated strategies to maximise their chances of winning. In Botswana the negotiation process is still under way, albeit threatened by the failure of parties to move from their fixed positions. These developments raise a critical question: does the formation of alliances constitute a viable option for opposition parties aspiring to power? Put differently: could alliances be the winning formula for the opposition parties in their attempts to circumvent the glaring paucity of their numbers and become a force to be reckoned with?

A Preface to an Inclusive African Electoral System Reform Agenda

Mohamed Salih and Abdalla Hamdok

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Mohamed Salih is Professor of Development Politics at the ISS,University of Leiden, Department of Political Science
Abdalla Hamdok is Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East, International IDEA, Pretoria

ABSTRACT: The main purpose of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of why African electoral systems should be reformed and how to do so in order to improve the quality of representation, participation, and government effectiveness. We attempt to offer a generic framework, a menu, so to speak, whereby African political parties and policy makers can reflect on the current state of play vis-à-vis their electoral systems and then decide whether a comprehensive or partial electoral reform agenda is needed. The paper also delineates the various institutions and stakeholders that should be involved in the electoral system reform process. This is a call to improve the reform process instead of entrusting it with a limited range of state-sponsored institutions, which often create more problems than those they contrive to solve. The paper is divided into four sections: a) a synoptic exposé of electoral reforms; b) the various types of electoral reforms and the factors which militate against them; c) lessons from the African experience with electoral system reforms; and d) an analysis of the main stakeholders required to steer a comprehensive electoral system reform agenda.

Electoral Reform in Southern Africa: Voter Turnout, Electoral Rules and Infrastructure

Norbert Kersting

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Professor Norbert Kersting holds the Willy Brandt Chair on Transformation and Regional Integration (DAAD) in the Department of Political Science, Stellenbosch University

ABSTRACT: Elections are the most important elements of democracies and, with referenda, the only way to organise mass participation and to promote government accountability. Low voter turnout can be seen as an indicator of low legitimacy and limited political stability. The African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the New Partnership for Africa's Development champion the idea of transparency and the integrity of the electoral process as well as greater participation and electoral turnout. An analysis of the voting age population of Southern African reveals that voter turnout is declining alarmingly. Do electoral rules and electoral infrastructure matter? The paper analyses election instruments using qualitative criteria from democratic theory. Are electoral systems, quotas for women and the conjunction of elections influencing voter turnout? Is a reform of voting infrastructure necessary? Southern African countries diverge widely in their electoral rules and infrastructure, which allows for cross-national learning. A number of remedies, including the necessity for automatic voter registration, are recommended.

Voting Behaviour in the SA Local Government Elections of 2006 With Specific Reference to the Youth

Maxi Schoeman and Charles Puttergill

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Maxi Schoeman is Head of the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria
Charles Puttergill is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria

ABSTRACT: This paper provides an overview of the third local government elections in South Africa, held on 1 March 2006. Three broad explanations are given for voting behaviour (rational choice, party identification, and the sociological model). We argue that contrary to the expectations and assumption that voter turnout and behaviour would be determined by material issues (service delivery) the outcome points to participation as being an intrinsic value in itself. In the second part of the paper we focus on youth voting behaviour, based on a pilot study conducted among political science and sociology students at the University of Pretoria in April 2006. We conclude that despite low levels of voter registration and voting among young people, they tend to become more involved in 'ballot box' activities over time and remain largely optimistic about the country. To the extent that voters (youth and adults) are dissatisfied with the performance of the ruling party (the party of overwhelming choice) such dissatisfaction does not point to a shift to support opposition parties. Rather, debates about policy and performance will take place within the ruling party, among various factions fighting for the 'soul of the ANC'.

The Political Economy of Democracy in Tanzania

Ernest T Mallya

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Ernest T Mallya is in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Dar es Salaam

ABSTRACT: Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world and, as is the case with other poor countries, there have been, for the past 20 years, internal and external efforts to try to free the country from the woes of poverty. There are many theories about what went wrong in Tanzania. These range from colonial domination - and its attendant problems of dependency and underdevelopment - to those which target capitalism and its 'predatory' nature, leading, among other things, to unequal exchange on the world market, world division of labour, and so on (Ellis 1983; Dutkiewicz & Williams 1987) as well as the ubiquitous globalisation which currently affects many aspects of life. However, not everyone believes that these theories provide a plausible explanation for what happened and why. Some see the problem as structural and also cite the inappropriate policies pursued by many poor countries, which were candidly acknowledged by the Organisation of African Unity (1986, p 17). Others (eg, Babu 1991, pp 31-4, Shivji 1974, pp 85-90) blame the way the policy was implemented. We will examine the causes of the predicament more closely and demonstrate how things are changing.

Measuring the Support for Democracy in Namibia: Intrinsic or Instrumental?

Lesley Blaauw

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Dr Blaauw is a lecturer in the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Namibia

ABSTRACT: This paper argues that the notion of liberal democracy is inadequate in explaining the challenges faced by the Namibian government in its attempts to consolidate democracy. The contention is that political freedoms gained, such as free elections, a respect for human rights, and equality before the law are, inter alia, crucial to endowing the political regime in Namibia with legitimacy. For democracy to be truly consolidated in the country, however, these intrinsic elements must be complemented by an instrumental component. Simply put, political freedoms must be supported by economic delivery. Ultimately, the paper postulates that people measure their support and satisfaction with democracy holistically, hence the distinction between economic and political support becomes blurred.

Founding Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo: A Highly Fragmented Party System

Patrick Vander Weyden

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Dr Vander Weyden is Vice-President of the Institute of Political Sociology and Methodology, Catholic University of Brussels

In this paper we analyse the embryonic party system in the Democratic Republic of Congo as a result of the legislative and provincial elections. Although a strong electoral system (with small district magnitudes) was implemented, the party system fragmentation at national as well as at provincial level is very high. As illustrated in this paper, strong electoral systems (small district magnitudes) generate different effects in emerging democracies from more traditional democracies. The main reason for this difference is the absence of structured political party organisations. A democratic system needs some fragmentation to function, but a highly fragmented system runs the risk of not functioning at all. Thus we plead for investment in structuring the party system by developing cross-district party organisations and stimulating collaboration and cooperation between the numerous existing parties and independent politicians.


Grant Masterson

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Democratic Reform in Africa: Its Impact on Governance and Poverty Alleviation
Muna Ndulo (ed)
Oxford: James Currey 2006, 304 pages