Abstract of the book ‘Party Systems and Cleavage Structures in Southern Africa. Determinants of Party Succuss and Failure in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia’
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Since 1990, societies in sub-Saharan Africa have been able to develop under democratic conditions. In free and regular elections, parties have established themselves or have temporarily made an appearance. Western democracy theories assume interdependence between electoral and party systems. For the balanced representation of the society in parliament it is necessary to establish an appropriate electoral system. The theories on western democracies suggest a voting system of majority vote (FPTP) as an appropriate instrument for homogeneous social structures and
proportional representation (PR) for heterogeneous structured societies. According to the theories, political parties act as a transmission of societal interests in parliament. For the interaction of society and political parties within the electoral system, it is necessary to systematically investigate the social structures of sub-Saharan African countries (cleavage analysis) and measure the success or failure of political parties against the backdrop of the election programmes (manifesto research). It reflects the extent to which western theories of democracy for the region
may apply. The focus of this research is the six polyarchies of Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa. These are countries with large societies and multi-party systems. The countries can be grouped into equal parts according to the majoritarian voting system and the voting system of proportional representation. The results of the national parliamentary elections in these countries since 1990 seems not meet to achieve the expectations of western theories. On the contrary, the reality in the countries contradicts the theories. In countries with the voting
system of proportional representation (Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa), neither coalition governments nor alternative government parties have ruled since 1990. In countries with a majoritarian voting system (Botswana, Malawi, Zambia), either coalitions have formed a government, or one party has remained unchallenged for decades. The research results show that the previous electoral outcomes are the reflection of the cleavage structure, and there are indicators in the societies examined that can meet the theoretical expectations of democratic societies in the
future. Therefore, the key aspects of this study are both actors – the voters and the political parties – in the countries of Southern Africa. The cleavage structure of each society will be examined, their extent and their political relevance. The political parties, their political goals, presented in manifestos, and the strategic positions in policy domains show the relation to other parties. Both actors in each country compared show which part of the society is represented by a political party. Furthermore will be shown, which party policy is favoured by the voters.
In part I of the study, the theoretical framework for the cleavage analysis and party analysis is established, which applies for the six country case studies of part II. The societies are examined in terms of eight cleavages, their extension and their political relevance. The cleavages are related to the settlement area, the occupation, the income distribution, the religion, the ethnicity (race), the language heritage, the educational level and citizenship (the proportion of foreigners).
In the context of the electoral system, political parties represent the social interest. Their goals are recorded as contents of the manifesto. The manifestos of parties can be used for Wordscores to compare the political parties on the policy domains Freedom and democracy, Political system, Economy, Welfare and quality of life, Fabric of Society and Social Groups. Each policy domain is described by two contrasting definitions, which are used for aggregating Left-Right categorisation of the parties. The results for each country show the relation schemes of the political
parties since 1990. The regional results in the comparative study (part III) define the categories Left, Right and Liberal of political parties in the context of Southern Africa.
The results of the cleavage analyses in the countries with majority voting system show a homogeneously fragmented society. In detail, a homogeneous society with a dominant party (BDP) is evident in Botswana, where there are signs of increasing party competition, indicating that a change of government is more likely in the future. Malawi shows a homogeneous social structure and produces alternating ruling parties. The atypical coalitions for majoritarian voting system are consequences of a period of regional voting behaviour in Malawi. The country study shows a transition, on the one hand, to locally and on the other hand, to nationally motivated voting behaviour with the result of a one-party rule (DPP). The election outcome in Zambia is based on a homogeneous society that brings theory compliant
changing governments. It is shown further that the leading parties in Zambia campaign with similar political content (PF and MMD).
The results of the cleavage analyses in the countries with proportional representation range from homogeneous to heterogeneous fragmented. Mozambique is a homogeneous society that has been ruled by a dominant party (FRELIMO) since 1990. The electoral outcomes in Mozambique show that the dominance of the party is independent of the electoral system. Since the last election, an emergent and as yet fragile approach to increasing party competition, which has existed in urban areas for a longer time, is now represented within the MDM. Namibia represents a heterogeneous social structure and thus offers various aspects of party competition. So far, one party has been dominant (SWAPO) and the competition has taken place primarily among the opposition parties. The moderately structured society
in South Africa has been dominated since 1990 by one party (ANC), and the opposition parties to substitute or make a party political camp. For the 2009 election, a new party emerged (COPE), which broke away from the ANC to independently represent an emerging social group. The cleavage analyses show that some major aspects in the South African society have shifted since 1990, and have affected changes in the ruling party and in the party system. With reference to Mozambique and Namibia, this scenario of a socially conditioned intra-party eruption cannot be
precluded, since its success is supported by the voting system of proportional representation.
In addition to the separate consideration of the six countries in Southern Africa, this work follows the tradition of comparative political science. The qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) is used to define the content of the left-wing, rightwing and liberal political parties in the context of Southern Africa. While Left and Right arise directly from the aggregate consideration of policy domains, the definition of the content of Liberal parties crystallises from a reverse analysis in the QCA-scheme. At the same time, the contents of the definitions are factors in the success of parties in Southern Africa. The definition of a Left party is that it promotes the raising of taxes to increase public services, the protection of the environment, even at the cost of economic growth. It favours personal freedom, civil rights and promotes the constitution in general, the decentralisation of administration and decision-making, favours patriotism
or nationalism and suspension of some freedom in order to protect the state, and favours references to labour groups and underprivileged minorities. The definition of Right that the party is to support economic growth, even at
the cost of damage to the environment, opposing decentralisation of administration and decision-making, favouring of patriotism or nationalism and the suspension of some freedoms in order to protect the state. Regarding Economy, Freedom and democracy and Social groups a right-wing party has no distinct positioning. The definition of Liberal is that political party promotes cutting public services to cut taxes, supports economic growth, even at the cost of damage to the environment, it favours personal freedom, civil rights and promotes the constitution in general, and promotes decentralisation of administration and decision-making, supports middle class, professional groups and favours privileged clientele. Regarding Fabric of society, a liberal party has no distinct positioning. The regional comparison shows the criteria for success and failure of political parties in the region. Parties with right-wing content are found mainly among the government parties, and parties with politically left-wing or liberal content are mainly
In conclusion, the societies and the political parties act in electoral systems that can represent their current interests equally, whether in the majority or in the electoral system of proportional representation. The dominance of one party can be traced back to the cleavages in the country and is based usually on a few politically relevant cleavages. The identified approaches for social development in countries with a dominant party can contribute to further party competition and thus fulfil the western theories in Southern Africa in the same way as countries with alternating governmental parties do. The acquired Left-Right scheme shows, in which policy domain political parties are best positioned to represent their interests as far reaching and successful.