Posts tagged ‘race’

Divided societies, racial campaigning and electoral outcome

Read what Reilly (2001) says about democratic competition in divided societies regarding ethnicity and electoral outcome: “Democratic competition is inherently difficult in such cases [of divided societies] because if the strong tendency towards politisation of ethnic demands, which in turn often leads to the growth of zero-sum, winner-take-all politics in which some groups are premanently included and some permanently excluded. Politicians in didvided societies face powerful incenties to play the ‘ethnic card’ and campaign align narrow sectarian lines, as this is often a more effective means of mobilising voter support than campaigning on the basis of issues or ideologies. A frequent result in multiethnic societies is that optimal outcomes for one player or group – electoral victory for one side on the back of a mobilised ethnic vote, for example – are accompanied by decidedly sub-optimal outcomes for the society as a whole (cf. Olson 1971), as identity politics becomes an increaslingly central part of the political game and the cycle of ethnic hostility and conflict unwins. The ‘bankruptcy of moderation’ (Rabushka and Shepsle 1972, 86) in such cases greatly undermines the prospects of peaceful democratic politics taking root.”

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May 7, 2009 at 17:13 Leave a comment

High participation pushes opposition

With respect to unexpected high voter participation (77.3 percent of registered people/ 59 percent of all people over 18 years) at South Africans elections, the IEC extended the opening of polling stations until the next day. On the April 22, the IEC announced the official results for the national level (as well as for the municipal level). The ANC lost share (-3.8 percent) and did not reach the two third by a hair’s breath, while the major opposition parties won.

The Cope turned out to be the most successful start up party since 1994 and is now the second major opposition party. The Cope challenge was to take over 20 percent of the ANC share, but the ANC only lost almost 4. What about the over 3 percent, which won Cope? Keeping in mind first that the Cope split off from the ANC and second the ANC is a left wing party, it seems visible that the Cope positioned rather on ANC’s right side, where all other parties are positioned as well. But, where exactly is the Cope positioned? On one side, the Cope is a young party, with a manifesto close to the ANC, founded by former ANC members. On the other side, opposition parties like ID, UDM, IFP and DA are positioned more distanced, because their ideology is more independent rooted. And the ideolgical distance between ANC and DA is most distinctive. The cluster of ID, UDM and IFP lost overall 6 percent. Following this, isn’t it possible, that the Cope is positioned exactly between these three parties (cluster) and the ANC? The Cope probably took over share from both sides, ANC and the party cluster. Additionally the mobilization of voters seems to be made by the Cope. Remember, the participation was unexpected high with 2 Mio. caste votes more than in 2004. The ANC benefits from high participation with 770.000 additional votes and the Cope total votes are 1.3 Mio.

The DA share increased by more than 4 percent and unifies additional 1 Mio. votes – compared with in 2004. The DA is a liberal party with mainly White and Indian voters (superficial said). This population makes a share of 12 percent of all inhabitants. Where did the DA fetch the other 4.5 percent? Obviously race does not play a role for the electorate, because 4.5 percent of blacks vote the DA (or rather more if it is allowed to break down 59 percent participation equal to the White and Indian population). There can be two reasons for that choice. The one reason can be the social engagement of the DA, which is a key issue in South Africa. Especially in terms of AIDS/HIV, where the ANC rather argues suspect (with beetroot, garlic and shower), while the DA campaigns aggressively in townships. And the other reason lies in an increasing share of economic successful people, who probably prefer liberal politics than socialist or even Marxist politics of the left wing party spectrum. These successful people could also have switched from the cluster parties to a party with a higher chance for alternative politics.

Summarizing the argumentation on party system above, the schema could look like following enumeration (from left to right): ANC – Cope – ID, UDM, and IFP – DA. Surprising for European experiences is that small parties benefit from high voter participation. Does South Africa up side down or on the way to materialize a party system without predominance as proportional representation usually generates?

April 26, 2009 at 15:49 Leave a comment

Let’s get started

In three days, on April 22, South Africa discloses the year of general elections in the Southern African region. Malawi helds elections in May 2009 and later on this year Botswana, Namibia and Mozambique. Also German newspapers treat the South African elections. For example, the weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT in its latest print version on April 16 ( 63 / 17). The author Bartolomäus Grill underlined his article “Wahl ohne Helden” (“Elections without Heroes”) with the question whether or not South Africa will be democratic after the elections. He issues voter resignation, dishonoured promises of the government and still existing racial and tribal discrimination in South Africa. He also sees a small chance for the new Cope Party to win significant share for breaking the ANC predominance. The Cope manifesto, he says, is a blue print of the ANC manifesto. But does it really surprise, that the Cope Party position is close to the ANC since founding in November 2008 mainly with former ANC members? Does race, religion and tribes really matter for individual decision making in the ballot box, while poverty, crime and unemployment are strong issues? Does disappointed people rather resign elections than switch to alternative parties such as Cope or the Democratic Alliance (DA)? The Cope challenge is to take over 20 percent of the ANC share and an increasing DA share would change the party system of South Africa. A different party system could raise party competition in a way of reduced predominance. In three days we know more about South African people’s political will.

April 19, 2009 at 12:35 Leave a comment


about the blog

This blog is about countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regarding societies, political parties and policies. Most interest will be spent on the countries: Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia.

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