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Title: Electoral coalition-building among opposition parties in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda from 2000 to 2017
Author: Beardsworth, Nicole Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 4457
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis analyses the political negotiations that shaped pre-electoral coalition-building amongst opposition parties in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda, over multiple rounds of elections between 2000 and 2017. Existing literature on opposition coalitions in Africa tends to draw upon quantitative research, using electoral data and a rational actor framework, and argues that access to funding is the key determinant of coalition formation, that electoral systems have a predictable effect on the likelihood of cooperation, and that ethnicity is an inhibitor of opposition cohesion. In contrast, this thesis adopts a qualitative and historical approach to the examination of factors and dynamics that encourage or impede opposition coalition formation by focusing on opposition parties in each of the three countries over at least three electoral cycles. The thesis draws upon 140 participant interviews with key opposition and civil society actors in the three countries, collected over a period of more than 14 months of fieldwork, including periods spent in-country monitoring the most recent elections and attending election rallies. Internal party discussion documents, coalition agreements, party literature and media reports of the election campaigns also provide important sources. Coalition negotiations were held in 15 of the 17 elections under review, suggesting that pre-electoral coalition negotiations - and subsequent coalition formation - are much more prevalent than previously assumed. In turn, the findings challenge our existing understanding of the dynamics of coalition-building in Africa. More specifically, the experiences of opposition parties in each country highlight a variety of reasons for the limited success of coalition-building. In Zimbabwe, foreign governments have played a central role in aiding opposition parties, but it is shown that their involvement has reduced the effectiveness of cross-party cooperation. Domestic and foreign business interests have provided financial incentives to induce party co-ordination in Zambia, yet opposition parties have been unable to find common ground, or have aligned their interests with those of the governing party. In Uganda, the opposition has consistently attempted to build coalitions at every election, building on a long history of cooperative politics, but these efforts have been thwarted as smaller parties attempt to protect their narrow electoral constituencies against the expansionist aims of larger multi-ethnic opposition parties. Across the three cases, the most consistent predictor of coalition collapse is intra-opposition competition for the same constituencies, rebutting previous theories that 'ethnic' parties are a hindrance to coalition formation and challenging the ethnic voting hypothesis. In sum, this thesis provides contextualised and historical accounts of coalition negotiation, formation and (frequent) collapse and identifies the multiple, complex reasons for the limited success of pre-electoral coalition-building. This contributes to a more nuanced and empirically-grounded understanding of the shifts in mobilisation strategies of African opposition parties, and brings the study of parties back into coalitions research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom ; Gilchrist Educational Trust ; British Institute in Eastern Africa
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JQ Political institutions (Asia, Africa, Australia, Pacific Area, etc.)