UNDERSTANDING PARTY DOMINANCE IN DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL SYSTEMS

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INITIATION OF ONE PARTY DOMINANT RULE

Why does dominant party rule result after multiparty elections? A common feature of most one party dominant systems, including those of industrial countries, is a highly symbolic history and the ushering in of a new political order. It is recognised that many dominant parties “have been closely identified with the creation of the constitutional political order they came to dominate” (Arian and Barnes 1974: 595). In Mtimkulu’s (2006: 99) study of Sweden’s Social Democratic party, India’s National Congress Party (INC) and the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) he also identified one commonality: “highly unusual circumstances prevailed in the respective countries prior to the parties accession to power.” Botswana achieved independence from colonial rule under the leadership of the BDP.

CONSOLIDATING AND MAINTAINING DOMINANCE

For dominance to be consolidated the electorally dominant party has to have so entrenched itself that the chances of an alternation in power are remote. The dominant party has become ingrained both electorally, symbolically and it dominates the political discourse. Giliomee and Simkins (1999: 12) assert “it is in the consolidating phase that the difference between the dominant party and the competitive systems becomes increasingly distinct.” The concern lies with the ‘mechanisms of control’ (Spieβ 2002: 8) or those methods used to consolidate and then maintain dominance.

State centralisation and state-party collusion

In general, the party’s claim to predominant power and pursuit of liberation, revolutionary or state-building goals goes hand-in-hand with the demand for increased state intervention. In addition, dominant parties are vulnerable to the changing of generations, the further they move from the historic event that brought them into power the greater the need for alternative mechanisms to induce loyalty. Building client-patron linkages is one such mechanism. To maintain such a system of patronage the ruling party needs unhindered access to state resources. An obvious implication of centralising of state power and the indiscriminate access it gives to state revenues is a blurring of the lines separating the party and state.

Garnering broad-based support and delegitimation of the opposition

A phenomenon associated with one party dominant systems is the tendency of the ruling party to adopt a more centrist approach so as to maintain its dominance and broad-based support. In Mexico, the ruling party was heterogeneous comprising of two major wings: the left-wing that emphasised income redistribution, land reform and social justice, illustrated in the rule of President Lázaro Cárdenas (1934-1940); and the right-wing that stressed industrialisation and state-led capitalist development, 53 as evidenced in the rule of President Miguel Alemán. Thus the PRI’s economic policies would shift with the presidential terms30 (Magaloni 2006: 9).

THE GREEK DEMOKRATIA

Democracy is generally presented as having its origins dating back to the city-states of Ancient Greece (500 to 300 B.C.). The term democracy originates from two Greek words – demos (people) and kraetin (to rule) and thus means ‘rule by the people’. Elster (1999: 253) argues that the Athenian democracy should be considered a success due to its system of checks and balances, which “prevented rash decisions by the citizens and abuse of power by military and political leaders.” To check their leaders the Greeks used, amongst other procedures, eisangelia (a suit brought by an individual citizen against another Athenian on the grounds of political misconduct) and graphe paranomon33 (indictment for making an illegal proposal) (Elster 1999: 276). However, the Athenians definition of ‘the people’ excluded women, slaves and resident aliens. Their democracy was not founded upon values of equality or opportunity, besides 10 percent of the population they defined as citizens (Barbour and Wright 2003: 18). Thus, a fundamental flaw of their democracy, a democracy which was later embraced by the Roman statesmen, was their belief, or underlying worldview, that man was naturally unequal and only one or a privileged elite were competent to govern.

THE MIDDLE AGES, 600 TO 1500 A.D., AND THE MAGNA CARTA

A time of social, political and intellectual turmoil resulted with the demise of Roman order. During these so-called Middle Ages, the monarchs consolidated their power over their subjects. Ordinary individuals were subjects to an authoritarian government and an authoritarian Catholic Church34, to which they had extensive obligations but no rights (Barbour and Wright 2003: 18). Education was restricted so as to maintain control over the people. As a result there was little advancement in civil liberty, scientific discoveries or technology. In England, the Norman system of government, which began with William the Conqueror in 1066, removed the rights of the people. This led to the kings abusing the people, barons as well as commoners, until the English barons, under King John, drew up a contract addressing these abuses and demanding guarantees of certain rights. King John, who needed the barons to raise money, reluctantly signed the Magna Carta in 1215, limiting the power of the king vis-à-vis the nobility (González 1984: 309).

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TABLE OF CONTENTS :

  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
  • LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
  • LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
  • CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
    • 1. GENERAL COMMENT
    • 2. RESEARCH THEME
      • 2.1 Contribution of research
      • 2.2 Important concepts: One party dominant systems and ‘constrained’ democracies
    • 3. RESEARCH PROBLEM
      • 3.1 Explanatory Propositions
    • 4. LITERATURE SURVEY
      • 4.1 One party dominant systems and agents of accountability
      • 4.2 Mexico and South Africa
    • 5. METHODOLOGY
      • 5.1 Research methodology
      • 5.2 Levels of analysis
      • 5.3 Scope of the study
    • 6. STRUCTURE OF THE RESEARCH
    • 7. CONCLUDING COMMENT
  • CHAPTER TWO: UNDERSTANDING ONE PARTY DOMINANCE
    • 1. INTRODUCTION
    • 2. LOCATING THE ONE PARTY DOMINANT SYSTEM WITHIN PARTY SYSTEMS
    • 2.1 One-party system
      • 2.2 Multiparty system
      • 2.3 One party dominant system
        • 2.3.1 The political system
        • 2.3.2 The threshold for dominance
        • 2.3.3 The nature of the dominance
        • 2.3.4 The inclusion of opposition features
        • 2.3.5 Time-span
  • 3. UNDERSTANDING PARTY DOMINANCE IN DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL SYSTEMS
    • 3.1 Two major trends in the understanding of democracy
      • 3.1.1 Rule by the people and dominant party systems
      • 3.1.2 Rule for the people and hegemonic party systems
      • 3.1.3 Classifying one party dominant systems
    • 3.2 What does one party dominance mean for a liberal democracy?
  • 4. ONE PARTY DOMINANCE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
    • 4.1 Historical context
    • 4.2 Economic context
    • 4.3 Social context
  • 4.4 International context
  • 5. CRITICISM OF THE ONE PARTY DOMINANT APPROACH
  • 6. LIFECYCLES OF ONE PARTY DOMINANT RULE
    • 6.1 Initiation of one party dominant rule
    • 6.2 Consolidating and maintaining dominance
      • 6.2.1 Pursuing a national project
      • 6.2.2 State centralisation and state-party collusion
      • 6.2.3 Corporatism, patronage and cooptation
      • 6.2.4 Institutional arrangements: Manipulation of elections and electoral procedures
  • 6.2.5 Garnering broad-based support and delegitimation of the opposition
  • 6.3 Decline of the dominant party
  • 7. IMPLICATIONS OF ONE PARTY DOMINANT SYSTEMS
  • 8. CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER THREE: LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
    • 1. INTRODUCTION
    • 2. THE ORIGINS OF DEMOCRACY
      • 2.1 The Greek ‘demos kraetin’
      • 2.2 The Middle Ages, 600 to 1500 A.D., and the Magna Carta
      • 2.3 The Reformation and Protestantism,
      • 2.4 The French Revolution,
    • 3. TWO STRANDS OF DEMOCRACY
    • 3.1 Africa’s adoption and adaptation of democracy
    • 4. IDENTIFYING A GOOD QUALITY DEMOCRACY
      • 4.1 Elements of a good quality democracy
        • 4.1.1 Institutions of accountability: Elections
        • 4.1.2 Institutions of accountability: Separation of powers
        • 4.1.3 Institutions of accountability: Rule of law and independence of the courts
  • 5. VOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
  • 5.1 Tempering government: agents of voice and accountability
    • 5.1.1 The limitations of agents of voice and accountability
  • 5.2 Elements of an accountable democracy
  • 5.2.1 An accountable government
    • 5.2.2 Political society
    • 5.2.2.1 The role of political parties
    • 5.2.2.2 Parliament
  • 5.2.3 Civil society as an agent of voice and accountability
  • 5.2.4 Society
  • 6. CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER FOUR: COMPARING MEXICO AND SOUTH AFRICA
    • 1. INTRODUCTION
    • 2. SOUTH AFRICA
    • 2.1 Historical context
      • 2.1.1 Authoritarian history
    • 2.2 Socio-economic context
      • 2.2.1 Ethnicity
      • 2.2.2 Economic Development
    • 2.3 International context
      • 2.3.1 Influence of external actors
    • 2.4 Political context
      • 2.4.1 Party system: Dominant party system
      • 2.4.2 Governmental system: A unitary state
      • 2.4.3 Electoral system: Proportional representation and floor-crossing
    • 3. MEXICO
    • 3.1 Historical context: Authoritarianism
      • 3.1.1 Authoritarian History
    • 3.2 Socio-economic context
      • 3.2.1 Ethnicity
      • 3.2.2 Economic development
    • 3.3 International context
      • 3.3.1 Influence of external actors
    • 3.4 Political context
      • 3.4.1 Party system: Hegemonic party
      • 3.4.2 Governmental system: Presidencialismo
      • 3.4.3 Electoral system: “Electoral machine”
    • 4. SOUTH AFRICA AND MEXICO COMPARED
    • 5. CONCLUSION
  • CHAPTER FIVE: IMPACT OF MEXICO’S HEGEMONIC SYSTEM ON VOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
  • CHAPTER SIX: IMPACT OF SOUTH AFRICA’S DOMINANT PARTY SYSTEM ON VOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
  • CHAPTER SEVEN: CONCLUSION

GET THE COMPLETE PROJECT
VOICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN ONE PARTY DOMINANT SYSTEMS: A COMPARATIVE CASE STUDY OF MEXICO AND SOUTH AFRICA

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