PhD Richard Larry Whitehead

Richard L. Whitehead holds a Ph.D. from Temple University's Department of Political Science, with Democratization and African politics as area of specialization.

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Hearty Parties
The Donors' Search for Political Acountability.

In Africa, the persistence of clientelism and widespread poverty challenges the capacity of political parties to function as organisations for advancing democratic governance. Coinciding with broader patterns of regional and international involvement in elections, political party weakness in Africa has led to a proliferation of party foundations and institutes engaging in direct or indirect support to political parties in Africa. At the same time, much of the party aid research has been undertaken by donor organisations themselves and is often focused on demonstrating successful programme implementation rather than evaluating programme contributions to democratic governance.

The first pillar of this project will begin consolidating an empirical understanding of the role that transnational political party assistance plays in helping to consolidate democracy in Africa. The pillar will begin by engaging in a theoretical discussion about the link between political parties and democratic governance, before taking a broad survey of party assistance programs operating in sub-Saharan Africa The pillar will finish with an assessment of the successes and failures of an assortment of aid designs in helping to strengthen political competition and democratic accountability. The goal is to present the research at two conferences during the course of 2011.

The second pillar of this project aims to provide a tool for understanding the opportunities and limitations in implementing anti-corruption measures in developmental assistance to Africa’s political parties. What role can political parties play in fighting corruption and in what ways can international party aid assist in fighting corruption by incorporating anti-corruption measures into aid designs and the distribution of aid resources? While research has been committed to articulating the role that party assistance can play in advancing citizen empowerment and accountability, far less attention has been given to the existing efforts and future opportunities for linking party assistance to a coherent anti-corruption strategy. Yet corruption has clear implications for issues of citizen empowerment and accountability. It is, therefore, puzzling that stronger efforts have not been made to include an emphasis on anti-corruption considerations in both research into party aid and actual party assistance. The goal is to present this research in two conferences throughout 2012 and to place two project articles in two different peer-reviewed journals.

Historical Legacies, Clientelism and the Capacity to Fight
Exploring Pathways to Regime Tenure in Tanzania.

While regimes in countries like Cameroon, Guinea, Togo and Tanzania have survived the transition from single to multiparty rule, this piece suggests two unique characteristics for the case of regime tenure in Tanzania. First, while transitions in other cases were characterised by widespread protests and/or popular opposition movements, opposition in Tanzania’s transition environment was minuscule by comparison. Secondly, while repression is still widespread in Tanzania, overt repression appears to be less prevalent in Tanzania when compared to most other tenure cases. This study will first explore the comparative role of overt repression as viable explanation for the CCM’s continued tenure. Afterwards, this piece suggests that accounting for the social formations that give rise to weak opposition parties in the first place might provide for a more complete appreciation of the CCM’s ability to pair strong tenure with comparatively low levels of overt repression.

Forthcoming article to be published in Democratization.

Political Participation in Africa
Does Competition Really Matter?

While research into Africa’s third-wave transitions have paid considerable attention to the connection between democracy and political competition, far less attention has been paid to political participation. This study makes a small contribution to each by exploring the connection between levels of electoral competition and levels of political participation across 108 multiparty elections in sub-Saharan Africa. A correlation analysis finds some modest support for the claim that greater levels of competition provide the incentives for political party leaders to increase investments into recruitment and voter mobilisation drives, thus increasing the level of political participation.

Article submitted to the Journal of Modern African Studies: December, 2010

State-Building and National Identity
Tanzania, the Exceptional Nation.

A 2009 Afrobarometer article identifies factors related to classical modernisation theory, such as urbanisation, education, and industrialisation, as positively correlated with national identification in sub-Saharan Africa. In the analysis however, Tanzania proved to be an exceptional case. Not only was national identification remarkably strong in the Tanzanian case, but most of those modernisation proxies shown to be relevant for national identification elsewhere were less relevant for national identification in Tanzania. In light of the Afrobarometer study, this article suggests that the policies pursued under the rubric of African socialism, which successfully obstructed the tendencies for development to translate into rapid social dislocations, may have also undermined Tanzania’s comparative ability to measure up to certain facets of modernisation theory while, at the same time, generating one of the Continent’s most nationally conscious countries.

Article submitted to African Studies Review: December 2010

Single-Party Rule in a Multiparty Age
Tanzania in Comparative Perspective.

As international pressure for multiparty reforms swept Africa during the early 1990s, long-time incumbent regimes, such as UNIP in Zambia, KANU in Kenya, and the MCP in Malawi, were simultaneously challenged by widespread domestic demands for multiparty reforms. Only ten years later, after succumbing to reform demands, many long-time incumbents were out of office after holding competitive multiparty elections. My research seeks an explanation for why this pattern did not emerge in Tanzanian, where the domestic push for multiparty change was weak, and, despite the occurrence of three multiparty elections, the CCM continues to win with sizable election margins.

This article is a follow-up to one of my earlier piece entitled “Repression and Social Forces”. In this earlier piece, I show how the post-reform pattern for incumbency maintenance in countries like Togo, Burkina Faso, and Cameroon included strong doses of repression as a tactic for surviving in office under to multiparty elections. Comparatively speaking however, governance by the CCM did not fit the typical post-Cold-War semi-authoritarian pattern of governance. Repression, which is far less systematic in Tanzania, cannot explain the overwhelmingly strong support the CCM continues to enjoy today. Rather than relying on explanations based on repression, this article locates the basis of post-reform CCM dominance in a historical process whereby a particularly unique array of social and economic policies promulgated during single-party rule culminated in comparatively affable social relations at the onset of multiparty reform. In Tanzania, this post-independence policy mix included stemming the growth of vast regional wealth differentials and stifling the development of powerful capitalist classes, rejecting ethnicity as a basis for organizing collective action, and constructing a relatively coherent national identity. Therefore, at the onset of international pressures for multiparty reform, political entrepreneurs were comparatively less able to mobilize material resources and ideational discontents that would have otherwise eased the party-building process. By contrast, in most other African cases, policies under single-party rule acted to reinforce many of those economic and ethnic divisions inherited at independence. These divisions in turn, acted as material and moral capital for organizing dissent against incumbency, and the consolidation of opposition parties following political reform.

Presented as workshop on Africa's one-party dominant regimes, University of Warwick, September 10-12, 2010

Party Dominance in Sub-Saharan Africa
Tying the Talk Together.

Discussant notes prepared for the workshop entitled "Law and Politics in Africa's One-Party Dominant Regimes" at the University of Warwick Centre for Studies in Democratisation and School of Law.

Date: September 10-12, 2010

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