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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Parties, platforms, and political mobilization: the Zambian presidential election of 2008
Authors:Cheeseman, NicISNI
Hinfelaar, MarjaISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society
Geographic term:Zambia
Subjects:presidential elections
political parties
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40388446
Abstract:The death of President Levy Mwanawasa in August 2008 plunged Zambian politics into a state of flux. This article argues that the way the main parties responded to the challenge of the resulting presidential by-election has three lessons to teach the emerging study of political parties and multiparty systems in Africa. First, Rupiah Banda's rise to power within the Movement for Multi-Party Democracy (MMD) demonstrates the extent to which intra-party machinations can leave a party saddled with an unpopular leader, and hence illustrates the great significance of succession struggles within dominant-party systems. Second, the main parties' continual repositioning of their electoral platforms reveals that not all African elections take place in an ideological vacuum, and shows that the platforms parties adopt can only be fully understood in the context of the wider party system and the way in which parties interact over time. Finally, the ability of PF (Patriotic Front) opposition leader Michael Sata to mobilize a diverse support base - by employing a 'populist' message in urban areas at the same time as receiving the support of his ethno-regional community in rural areas - lays bare the complexity of party strategies and the limits of the 'ethnic census' model of party support. Taken together, these findings suggest that the tendency to divorce the study of elections from the study of how parties function and interact impoverishes our understanding of African politics. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]