FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Monday, October 22, 2012

Alternation in African Politics Notes (Cheeseman, Moehler, Lindberg, Nasong'o)

Alternation in African Politics Notes

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

African Elections as Vehicles for Change– Nic Cheeseman

            Since the return of multi-partyism to sub-Saharan Africa in the 1990s, transfers of power between rival parties have been rare. Presidents’ ability to control institutions and the flow of patronage creates a strong incumbency bias that limits change during elections. Why some power changes have occurred in some states can be described as a mix of economic decline, falling support for incumbents, the ability or inability of opposition parties to form a broad alliance, or sometimes the president is not up for re-election. Open seat polls are rare, but they account for half of all presidential transfers of power from one party to another between 1990 and 2009 (This article was written in 2010). If democratic consolidation requires the removal of old authoritarian powers and turnover is an indicator of democratic progress, open-seat elections may be a significant factor in the democratization process. When an open-seat poll coincides with economic hard times, government-related scandals, and a strong oppositions campaign, turnover becomes not only possible, but likely.

The Impact of Incumbency:

            30 countries have instituted a two-term presidential cap, but only 11 have honored the constitutional term limitation. Many presidents have managed to change the constitution to allow a third term, but those who have honored the term limitations have created a significant number of open-seat polls. Cheeseman than looks at elections between 1990 and 2009 to support his case that opposition parties perform worse when running against a sitting president, and open-seat elections have a better power transfer distribution. His study does not include results of authoritarian systems where incumbents are re-elected in landslide victories. Ruling parties without an incumbent struggle because 1) weak institutionalized party structures and personalized politics mean that the battle to select a new presidential candidate often results in a divided party, 2) nonincumbent candidates cannot point to a record of accomplishment, so their promises to client groups are less credible, 3) unless the outgoing president has handpicked his successor, there may be a distance between the incumbent and the party’s candidate.

Succession Struggles:

            The major challenge to the continued hegemony of electoral authoritarian regimes is effectively managing the succession process. Ruling parties typically either avoid asking incumbents to stand for renomination or they employ rubber-stamp processes structured to prevent intraparty competition. The succession process is often unregulated, meaning that the outcome was governed by the informal balance of personal networks within the party rather than the straightforward provision in the party constitution. Unregulated successions cause political crises and violence and can cause party divisions, making it difficult to run a campaign. Cheeseman gives examples of this in Sierra Leone, Kenya, and Ghana, but then discusses how South African African National Congress (ANC) overcame the succession problem and managed a landslide non-incumbent victory.

The Advantages of Incumbency:

            Incumbents have advantages due to their patronage networks and they are better placed to make believable promises to prospective voters who can evaluate their past performance. This helps attract swing-voters. Their capacity to construct political machines and make credible clientelistic appeals gives them a comparative advantage. In highly personalized systems, voters often identify with a particular individual rather than a party, and the goodwill won by an incumbent may be hard to transfer to his successor, which can be exacerbated by ethnic rivalries. This is why highly diverse countries such as Kenya and Mali use multiethnic coalitions and rotate the presidential candidacy.

Stay or Go:

Transfers of power require meaningful elections and the willingness of the ruling party to concede defeat. Open-seat elections create anomalous dynamics because the new presidential candidate is nominally in charge of the party and the election campaign, while the sitting president retains control of the state’s coercive capacity until the elections results have been announced. Stealing an election in most cases therefore requires the support of the outgoing president. When a sitting president is succeeded by a candidate to whom he has little attachment, he may be less willing to undermine the rules of the game and the opposition candidate is able to better compete. When the relationship between the sitting president and the presidential candidate is not close, the division of authority may hamper electoral manipulation and make the retention of power through unconstitutional means less likely. The combined impact of succession struggles, of the difficulty that non-incumbent  candidates may have in mobilizing patronage networks, and of the greater willingness of retiring presidents to oversee free and fair elections means that open-seat polls represent real windows of opportunity for opposition parties in Africa.

The Impact of Term Limits:

            Term limits increase the likelihood of alternation of power, which promotes democratic consolidation. There are three good reasons for thinking that turnover can play such a positive role in the democratization process:
1.     Transfers of power in non-incumbent elections have helped to remove entrenched corrupt, and authoritarian parties from power, creating opportunities for further political liberalization.
2.     Turnover is important because it is perhaps the most powerful sign that key actors have a genuine commitment to democratic values.
3.     Transfers of power inject multiparty regimes with legitimacy – the stronger the popular support for democracy, the more costly it is for leaders to abuse democratic institutions and indulge authoritarian tendencies; thus initial democratic gains are less likely to be eroded.

      This article theorizes about why certain electoral qualities (elections that produce turnovers, are peaceful, accepted by opposition parties, and free and fair) should reduce winner-loser gaps in perceived institutional legitimacy. Ruling and opposition elites face greater incentives to play by the rules of the democratic game when citizens maintain moderate perceptions of institutional legitimacy. Thus, democratic consolidation is facilitated by bringing “winners, independents, and losers” of the electoral game towards a shared appreciation of the legitimacy of their government institutions.
      The article uses Afrobarometer statistical models to show that nearly every African country for which there is data, winners and losers on average have a highly polarized perceptions of the legitimacy of their political institutions. Winners tend to view their constitutions, courts, police, and so on as much more trustworthy, accountable, worthy of consent, representative, and satisfactory while losers tend to seriously question institutional probity. The African status quo is dangerous for democracy; such sanguine winners are unlikely to sanction favored leaders who chip away at democracy, while disenchanted losers may be more likely to support electorally defeated elites who decide to pursue power by undemocratic means. More importantly, this article suggests a single plausible antidote: electoral turnovers have a significant moderating effect on the citizens as winners and loser converge in their attitudes about the legitimacy of their state institutions thus creating incentives for elites on both sides to comply with the rules of the democratic game. The exercise of political power is generally viewed to be legitimate when it is in accordance with existing rules justified by shared beliefs and when citizens consent to the arrangement. Based on this understanding, the author’s surveys uses popular perceptions of state institutions to gauge their legitimacy.
There are 3 reasons why winner-loser legitimacy gaps are the focus of this study:
            1)    One should be concerned about the attitudes of losers because they have greater incentives to act         
            against the current system.
             2)    This more common concern regarding losers should be supplemented with an equally important                    
             attention to winners because inflated perceptions of legitimacy among citizens aligned with ruling      
            elites can enable the gradual erosion of democratic institutions by insiders.
             3)    Polarization of attitudes between insiders and outsiders makes tolerance, compromise, and   
              cooperation more difficult to achieve across political lines.

Before presenting the survey data, the paper discusses 4 qualities of elections that are likely to affect popular perceptions of legitimacy in emerging democracies:
       1)    Turnover of power: Democracy was accepted by elites as legitimate after two alternations in power. The “two-turnover test” is an indicator signaling consolidation of democracy. It is only when a peaceful turnover occurs that we have unambiguous evidence that it would be accepted by losing incumbents and that eth democratic institutions can deal with political change.
       2)    Peaceful process: The systematic use of violence constitutes a denial of democratic values and rights.
       3)    Acceptance of election outcomes
       4)    Free and fair election

The article then presents all of the data in lots of charts and formulas.

            From 1990 to 2000, there was a large shift towards democratization in Africa, as many countries changed from single-party authoritarianism or military dictatorship to multiparty polities. This article argues that the limited transitions from incumbent regimes and the persistence of authoritarianism are a function of affecting political liberalization without democratizing the political systems and the rules of the game. (Political liberalization = legalization of opposition parties and their freedom to contest political office)

Institutional Design for Democracy:

The realization of democracy is contingent upon rules of the game that provide for alternative political parties competing against one another for the chance to govern within institutional systems that guarantee fairness and a genuine opportunity for alternation of power between parties. An electoral system is designed to do three things:
      1)    It serves to translate votes cast into seats won in a legislative chamber.
      2)    It serves as a conduit through which the people can hold their representative accountable.
      3)    Electoral systems serve the normative function of structuring the boundaries of acceptable political discourse and giving incentives for those competing for power, especially political parties, to couch their appeal to the electorate in distinctive ways.
This description is followed by definitions Plurality-majority and proportional representation systems, then are followed by examples from cases in Benin, Malawi, Mali, and South Africa.

New Game, Old Rules: Kenya and Zambia

            In the time period discussed, these two counties could not steady the transfer of power and is a function of failure to redesign the electoral system in both countries  in the early 90s to enhance multiparty political competition and thus advance democratic progress. In Zambia, the incumbent (President Kaunda) tried to rewrite the constitution to secure victory in their first multiparty election. Pressure from the competing party led to the President suspending the draft constitution for further negotiations. The incumbent lost the election and the newly ruling Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) party established a Constitutional Commission to revise the constitution along democratic lines. Running up to the 1996 election, the MMD changed the constitution again to protect their position of power. The largest competing party, the United Party for National Development (UPND) boycotted the election. In 2001, there were 10 opposition presidential candidates who shared over 71 percent of the total votes, but the MMD candidate took 28 percent of the votes and hence, the election.
In Kenya, there was no redesigning of the electoral system before the first multiparty elections in December 1992. The ruling KANU government was not forced to change the section in the constitution that made Kenya a one party state by law. Competing parties still went to the polls within the single party electoral system design. The electoral system’s design was such that the odds were stacked against the opposition in 4 ways:
     1)    The provincial administration was not delinked from the electoral process and was thus used by the incumbent party to harass and intimidate the opposition.
      2)    Because of violence and intimidation, and arrests of opposition politicians and their supporters and the declaration of so-called KANU zones in Moi’s stronghold of the Rift Valley, 41 percent of the KANU candidates from the Rift Valley were returned to parliament unopposed.
      3)    The opposition was denied access to the government controlled television and radio.
      4)    The opposition had no say in the appointment of the electoral commission, which was single-handedly appointed by the incumbent.
            In the 92 parliamentary election, KANU received fewer overall votes, but won 100 seats compared to 88 for the opposition. Moi won the presidential election with only 37 percent of the total votes. This pattern was repeated in the 97 election as well. In 2000, through an Act of Parliament, the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission was constituted, and the National Alliance Rainbow Coalition beat KANU in the 2002 election. Bottom line, Kenya and Zambia went through political transition to multipartyism without broad-based renegotiation of the rules of the game. Any subsequent efforts at constitution making were either skewed in favor of the incumbent regime, or stonewalled and torpedoed altogether.

*In a proportional representation system—people vote for parties, not individuals.    If the Dems win 75%, then the dems take their top 75% of candidates.  This means that the voters are disconnected from the population and that the leaders are more accountable to party leadership.


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