Special Issue: Understanding the Causes and Consequences of Political Party Alliances and Coalitions in Africa

Editor: Denis Kadima
Managing Editor: Pat Tucker

Contributors: Denis Kadima, Matthijs Bogaards, Danielle Resnick, Susan Booysen, Motlamelle Anthony Kapa, Victor Shale, Samson Lembani, Felix Owuor, Alistair McMillan, Philippe Biyoya Makutu, Rossy Mukendi Tshimanga, Tom Lodge

Key terms: Politics, Party, Alliances, Coalition, Socially-divided, Africa, Electoral, Know, Do, Compromise, Contestation, Understanding, Drivers, Implications, Behaviour, Causes, Impact, System, National Cohesion, South Africa, Lesotho, Weakening, Malawi, Kenya, Decade, Experiments, India Partis, Politiques, République Démocratique du Congo Causes, Conséquences, Preliminary Conclusions

An introduction to the Politics of Party Alliances and Coalitions in Socially-divided Africa

Denis Kadima

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Denis Kadima is Executive Director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).

ABSTRACT: There is a gradual emergence of a body of knowledge about the factors that stimulate the formation, survival and disintegration of party alliances and coalitions in Africa. What is relatively less known is the impact of these alliances and coalitions on various aspects of political and governance systems in African countries. This article is a modest step towards explaining the effects of party alliances and coalitions on national cohesion and party systems in Africa’s socially-divided states.

Electoral Alliances in Africa: What do we Know, What Can we Do?

Matthijs Bogaards

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Matthijs Bogaards is Professor of Political Science at Jacobs University, Bremen, Germany.

ABSTRACT: Under what circumstances do opposition parties form electoral alliances, when are they successful, and how do they contribute to democratisation? These are the leading questions in recent studies of opposition coalitions. This article reviews the quantitative literature on pre-electoral coalitions in Africa and beyond. Although differences in operationationalisation, periodisation, case selection and research design hinder the accumulation of knowledge, the tendency is for the quantitative literature to highlight government policies, opposition features and the economy, whereas the qualitative literature focuses on institutions. In addition, this article points to the party system as a variable in its own right. Shifting from the empirical to the prescriptive, the conclusion discusses an institutional innovation that would help to strengthen opposition coalitions in Africa.

Compromise and Contestation: Understanding the Drivers and Implications of Coalition Behaviour in Africa

Danielle Resnick

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Danielle Resnick was formerly a Research Fellow with the United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNUWIDER) and is currently a Research Fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

ABSTRACT: When and why do African political parties form electoral alliances? And how do these alliances translate into post-electoral governance and policymaking? To answer these questions, this article presents data on preelectoral coalitions for executive elections formed in all African countries between 1990 and 2013. Office-seeking motives overwhelmingly explain the goals of these coalitions but a variety of other factors, including two-round electoral systems, access to financing and the timing of coalition pacts, help determine whether such coalitions last until election day. Post-electoral coalitions have manifested in three main ways, including pre-electoral pacts that result in post-electoral Cabinet sharing, unity governments intended to end a political crisis, and parliamentary coalitions. The article concludes that while coalitions may occasionally lead to party turnover and end violent conflicts, their long-term consequences with regard to creating strong ties with voters, helping parties mature, encouraging more efficient policymaking and eliminating underlying sources of social contention remain more doubtful.

Causes and Impact of Party Alliances and Coalitions on The Party System and National Cohesion In South Africa

Susan Booysen

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Susan Booysen is a Professor at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand.

ABSTRACT: South Africa’s first decade of democracy, 1994-2004, delivered a high volume of governing and opposition alliances and coalitions in South Africa. These alliances and coalitions catalysed the party system and facilitated the consolidation of ANC power. Simultaneously, alliances in this decade triggered the main opposition party, the DA, which continued to dominate opposition politics numerically through Election 2014. The second decade of democracy, 2004-2014, was characterised by continued ANC dominance, yet, instead of the ANC unremittingly usurping parties, it became subject to splits. Some of the split-offs emerged to become opposition parties. Others fused into alliances with either the ANC or existing opposition parties. This article takes stock of the development during these two decades and looks ahead to budding new alliances that may thrive in conditions of lessened ANC dominance.

Alliances, Coalitions and the Political System in Lesotho 2007-2012

Motlamelle Anthony Kapa and Victor Shale

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Dr Motlamelle Anthony Kapa is lecturer and head of the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the National University of Lesotho.
Dr Victor Shale is EISA’s Zimbabwe Resident Director.

ABSTRACT: This paper assesses political party alliances and coalitions in Lesotho, focusing on their causes and their consequences for party systems, democratic consolidation, national cohesion and state governability. We agree with Kapa (2008) that formation of the pre-2007 alliances can be explained in terms of office-seeking theory in that the political elite used alliances to access and retain power. These alliances altered the country’s party system, leading to conflict between parties inside and outside Parliament, as well as effectively changing the mixed member proportional (MMP) electoral system into a parallel one, thereby violating the spirit of the system. However, the phenomenon did not change state governability; it effectively perpetuated the one-party dominance of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and threatened national cohesion. The post-2012 coalition, on the other hand, was a product of a hung parliament produced by the elections. The impact of the coalition on the party system, state governability and democratic consolidation is yet to be determined as the coalition phenomenon is still new. However, state governability has been marked by a generally very slow pace of policy implementation and the party system has been both polarised and reconfigured while national cohesion has been strengthened. The major challenge for political leaders is to manage the coalition arrangement for the good of the country, which we strongly feel they must, since it seems that coalition governments are very likely to be a permanent feature of Lesotho politics.

Alliances, Coalitions and the Weakening of the Party System in Malawi

Samson Lembani

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Samson Lembani has served as country director for the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Malawi since 2001.

ABSTRACT: In nascent democracies, like that in Malawi, with presidential regimes and plurality electoral systems, the emergence of fragmented political party systems is inevitable, characterised by ethnically polarised political behaviour, fragile institutions and minority governments. This ultimately leads to volatile and contentious legislative-executive relations, weak political party cohesion and the stagnation of democratic consolidation. Malawi’s system inherently offers neither incentives for coalition formation nor mutual interdependence between the executive and the legislature. Hence, the latent conflicts, persistent governance crises, inertia and grinding executive-legislative confrontations. Among political actors and across minority regimes in Malawi recourse to coalition politics has not been embraced as an optimal democratic instrument and formal strategy for state governability since 1994. The Mutharika minority government (2004-2009), which was persistently frustrated by parliamentary paralysis, survived on the floorcrossing inducements of opposition legislators, extended judicial injunctions and the presidential prorogation of Parliament. In addition, the brief ‘experiments’ with government coalitions, ‘collusions’ and electoral alliances weakened cohesion within partner parties and hardly increased national cohesion, but promoted state governability and yielded marginal gains in democratic consolidation. This article argues that political institutions that are designed to encourage formal political coalitions and discourage floorcrossing (parliamentary systems and proportional electoral laws) serve to mitigate against state instability and enhance democratic consolidation.

Kenya’s Decade of Experiments with Political Party Alliances and Coalitions: Motivations, Impact and Prospects

Denis Kadima and Felix Owuor

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Denis Kadima and Felix Owuor Denis Kadima is Director of the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA).
Felix Owuor is County Director, EISA Kenya.

ABSTRACT: This article explains the causes, factors and motivations influencing the formation (the survival and the collapse) of pre-electoral alliances and coalition governments in Kenya. It also looks at the consequences of alliances and coalitions for national cohesion and the party system. The paper demonstrates that alliances and coalitions contribute to national cohesion in Kenya by bringing together polarised political parties and ethnic groups and ensuring a more equitable sharing of national resources. Conversely it argues that while party alliances and coalitions do contribute to a degree of national cohesion their disintegration may, in certain circumstances, undo the progress achieved in building national cohesion. Finally the study shows that party alliances and coalitions tend to weaken smaller parties and the party system in favour of the larger parties.

The Causes of Political Party Alliances and Coalitions and Their Effects on National Cohesion in India

Alistair McMillan

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Dr Alistair McMillan is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics at theUniversity of Sheffield.

ABSTRACT: Electoral politics in India has long been considered a challenge for comparative politics; from the distinctiveness of the transition and consolidation of democracy and through the understanding of the way in which the socio-economic complexities of such a heterogeneous society have adapted to and interacted with the institutions of parliamentary politics. Since the 1990s India has experienced the conjunction of a period of complex electoral fractionalisation with considerable and sustained economic growth. This has confounded expectations that the political context that is most conducive to economic development is one of strong and stable government. Rather, the contemporary experience of Indian development has occurred against the backdrop of a dynamic and regionalised party system, with coherence provided by a weakened central executive which has had to limit direct control over economic and social policy. To some extent this has been achieved because of an institutional structure of governance which has responded to the evolution of popular politics, providing a framework of governance which has reflected some of the national diversity and filled some of the power vacuums left unfilled by the fiercely competitive but often corrupt and inefficient party political system. However, a major factor has been the way in which electoral alliances and government coalitions have become an accepted feature of Indian democratic politics, forcing acceptance that compromise, power-sharing, and recognition of diversity are essential elements of successful government.

Alliances et Coalitions de Partis Politiques en République Démocratique du Congo: Causes et Conséquences

Philippe Biyoya Makutu et Rossy Mukendi Tshimanga

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Professor Philippe Biyoya Makutu, who holds a doctorate in Political Sciences and International Relations, is a professor at the Université de Lubumbashi and Director of the Pan-African Institute of International and Strategic Relations.
Rossy Mukendi Tshimanga is a graduate in International Relations from the Université Pédagogique Nationale de Kinshasa

ABSTRAIT: En 2006 et en 2011 la tenue des élections générales, législatives et présidentielles ont donné lieu en RDC à la formation des alliances et des coalitions des partis politiques autour particulièrement des candidats Joseph Kabila et Jean Pierre Bemba (2006), et entre Joseph Kabila et Etienne Tshisekedi (2011). Les raisons à la base de cette pratique n’auront pas été celles relatives aux objectifs de consolidation de la démocratie, de la gouvernabilité de l’état ou de la cohésion nationale. Seule la volonté de réunir le plus grand nombre de suffrages et de conquérir le pouvoir présidentiel aura été la véritable motivation. La conséquence en fut la paralysie de la démocratie parlementaire d’une part et de l’autre la fragilisation de la cohésion nationale. Les alliances et les coalitions dans ce cas n’ont pas été un facteur du développement institutionnel, du parlementarisme congolais. La pratique congolaise constituerait en soi un faux modèle qui n’invalide cependant pas les théories des alliances et coalitions mais exige des améliorations.

Some Preliminary Conclusions on the Causes and Consequences of Political Party Alliances and Coalitions in Africa

Tom Lodge

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Tom Lodge is Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Limerick.

ABSTRACT: The papers brought together in this issue of the Journal of African Elections were presented at EISA’s Eighth Symposium, held in Johannesburg in September 2013. At this event academic specialists joined politicians and electoral officials from a wide range of settings within and outside Africa to reflect on the experiences of forming political party alliances and coalitions and governing through them. Their contributions to the symposium addressed five key questions: How do we define electoral alliances or coalitions? Which circumstances favour their formation? Why do parties form coalitions? What have been their effects? And, finally, which are the key issues that future researchers should address? This concluding essay brings together the main insights that were generated by the presentations and the discussions they prompted.