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, January 28, 2013

Notes on African Political Parties (Articles by Rakner, Van de Walle, Resnick, Bleck)

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

NOTES on African Political Parties

Opposition Weakness in Africa by Rakner and Van de Walle

- By and large, voters want constituent services—and the way you do that is by being a member of a large ruling party
- what opposition that exists is fragmented and NOT unitedthe second place party is typically half as potent (at the most) as ruling party.
*Just because a party gains 50% doesn’t mean that elections are competitive—but it is better than them winning 90%.  It just means opposition is really weak.
- Independents by and large aren’t very useful—they are hedging their bets and are ready to throw in their hats, and votes, with the ruling party.

- Two-round, majority presidential elections—clearly addresses problem of opposition fragmentation in the short-term.  Question really surfaces in the first round—who’s going to be the opposition candidate.  1st round election determines the opposition leader. 
- A lot of the independent and opposition groups that are splintered will end up (post-election) joining and supporting the ruling party because they want the goods and services—this is because they don’t have ideological platforms! 
- One counterpoint is for the opposition to win the mayorship of the capital (or other large municipal position) to control those resources
*The Table on p. 110 may or may NOT indicate an improving trend because there are less countries examined in each subsequent electionperhaps the 21 countries in the 4th election have had the same percentages through their first 3 elections and haven’t actually been improving—or maybe they have been. 

- Opposition parties are viewed by the voters as opportunistic and seen as self-serving
- Opposition coalitions should be able to address the problem of lowering support for ruling party—but the vast majority can’t overcome a lack of trust—to overcome the ruling party. 

- Is social protest evidence presented sufficient to support their data?
- Two arguments:
            *Irrational one—french secular elite culture combined with aid dependence make    them not see the kinds of appeals that would be useful to them
            *Rational one—governments are largest employer and largest private employers    are donors.

- State is too weak to support a democratic system
- Perhaps people want good governance but don’t know how to go about getting
- Locality of rural majority?  Not concerned with state.
- Ruling party spends much of the time after first election creating rules to prevent the strength of the opposition.  Often time ruling party owns the some of the opposition parties and just uses them for subterfuge. 
- there are no official expectations for the government beyond that of a welfare state—not a want for good governance—but just give me stuff—but is this more of a rural phenomenon?   (Welfare state argument)
 *With the rise of urbanization (which rarely supports the incumbent), how does    this change?  Of note: poverty hurts more in the city than in the country.
*Unemployment, food, student stipends, civil servant raises


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