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Title: Parties, factions and votes : a comparative study of electoral politics in post-colonial Namibia
Author: Cooper, Ian David
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Since Africa’s ‘second liberation’ from authoritarianism at the beginning of the 1990s, political parties have assumed a critically important role in the processes by which social interests are articulated, institutions are legitimised and conflicts are managed. Many authors question the extent to which these organisations recognise the intrinsic value of free political competition, personal liberty, political accountability and social inclusion, although relatively few studies have attempted a comprehensive exploration of either party or voter behaviour. This research project represents a hypothesis-building case study of Namibia and addresses three areas of concern. First, it builds upon existing party system research to demonstrate that Namibia’s opposition vote is characterised by acute volatility and attributes this phenomenon to weak parties, salient ethnic identities and a permissive electoral system, all of which serve to encourage party fragmentation. Second, it investigates the more proximate causes of party fragmentation and concludes that leadership succession contests tend, in Namibia, to trigger splinter group formation either when factional support has been mobilised around a divisive issue or when defeated contenders are coerced into submission. Third, it explores the nature and drivers of dominant-party motivation, challenging an assumption that ruling elites are primarily interested in gangster-style theft and demonstrating that Namibia’s governing party has pursued, not only a formally legitimate path to wealth accumulation, but also a set of progressive social policies designed to empower its support base. Finally, it argues that Namibia’s opposition parties are not primarily motivated by a desire to secure ministerial office through election or co-optation, as the literature would suggest, but by a determination to capture the salaries, party income and media opportunities associated with parliamentary office. Each of these four arguments is tested through comparative analysis, using secondary literature, of Namibia, South Africa and Botswana.
Supervisor: Cheeseman, Nicholas; Lemon, Anthony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Democratic government ; Government and politics--Namibia; Government and politics--South Africa; Government and politics--Botswana; Political parties--Africa; Comparative democratisation; Liberation movements--Africa