Accepted paper:

Governability, Stability and Legitimacy: Benign Effects of Party Dominance System in the South African Emerging Democracy to Transform the Society


Ainara Mancebo (UNED University)

Paper short abstract:

The party dominance in South Africa, during the eve and consolidation of the democracy, has been a benign bridging in the political system to stabilise, constraining the threats represented by secessionist forces and ethnic violence in a divided society as South Africa

Paper long abstract:

In 1994 South Africa held its first democratic election under a new electoral system. Since then a tripartite alliance formed by the African National Congress, the South African Communist Party and the Trade Union Alliance COSATU has been ruling the country with wide parliamentarian majorities. This article focuses in understanding the problems of democratic consolidation and state-building. In emerging democracies from authoritarian regimes, the legitimacy and stability of the new political system and the reduction of the conflict are the most concern issues to face front. I identify what type of party systems are associated with citizen participation, stable and effective government, and the containment of political violence. I argue that the implementation of a high inclusive proportional electoral system in a high divided society as South Africa and the resultant strong party system, generates stability, legitimacy and governability in these political systems. The use of a PR electoral system with a national constituency and low-level threshold has mitigated the regionalisation of the party system. Taking as dependent variables: the stability, the governability, and the legitimacy in the political systems; and as independent variables: the degree of multi-party system, the proportionality of the electoral outcome, and the level of social division. I show that the emerging of a party dominance system in new democracies, with high divided societies, has a benign effect in the success of the democratisation. The resulting party dominance in South Africa has facilitated national integration and has constrained secessionist tendencies.

panel Pol14
Regime change, democratic experiments and trends in succession politics in Africa