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Elite-Mass Congruence in African Dominant Party Systems: The Cases of Botswana and Lesotho

Jonathan Van Eerd
University of Zurich
Jonathan Van Eerd
University of Zurich
Open Panel

Abstract

This study investigates elite-mass partisan congruence in African dominant party systems. I argue that dominant party systems with stable opposition parties provide more capacity for programmatic issue congruence between voters and their political representatives than dominant party systems with volatile opposition parties. To test this argument I compare Lesotho and Botswana. Both countries feature regular and fairly free elections, which so far resulted in dominant party systems where the same party holds more than 50 percent of the lower house seats in subsequent elections. However, in Botswana, a stable opposition embodied in the Botswana National Front (BNF) confronts the dominant Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). In Lesotho, on the other hand, the dominant Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) faces a fluid and fragmented opposition. Accordingly, I expect to find more congruence on partisan policy preferences between political elites and voters in Botswana than in Lesotho. I measure the extent of elite-mass partisan congruence by combining an original elite dataset and survey data.