Accepted paper:

The rally-intensive campaign: ground electioneering in Tanzania


Dan Paget (University of Oxford)

Paper short abstract:

I consider how African election campaigns should be characterised. I argue that the modernist literature homogenises ground campaigns. I argue that ground campaigns vary between the rally-intensive and rally-light, and enumerate features of Tanzania's rally-intensive ground campaigns.

Paper long abstract:

I consider how African election campaigns should be characterised. I revisit typologies proposed by Pippa Norris and others, which distinguish between premodern, modern and postmodern campaigns. Studies of political communication leave this modernism largely unquestioned. I challenge the conceptual linearity that these typologies impose. In particular, I argue that they homogenise ground campaigns. Ground campaigns only feature in these typologies by virtue of their centrality in premodern campaigns and their peripherality in modern campaigns. This denies variation in ground campaigns. In some, rallies are peripheral. In others, rallies are central. By neglecting this variation, current typologies obscure important differences between African ground campaigns, and indeed between ground campaigns across the world. To accommodate this variation, I rework Norris' schema. I propose a distinct ideal type: the rally-intensive campaign. This reworking strips the schema of its modernism and draws its centre of gravity towards the Global South.

I demonstrate how electioneering changes when aggregate rally attendance is high. I do so by drawing on ten months of field work in Tanzania, which hosts Africa's most rally-intensive campaigns. I show that in Tanzania, not only national leaders dedicate substantial effort to convening rallies; mid- and low-level candidates do too. I demonstrate that Tanzanian local rallies are better attended in aggregate than national ones. I show that in Tanzania, mass meeting dwarfs canvassing as a form of direct campaign contact. Lastly, I argue that Tanzanian parties' ground campaign efforts are concentrated on a bundle of activities which I term the 'production' of rallies.

panel Pol27
Playing to the crowd: performance and the politics of campaign rallies