Political Parties in South Africa: Do they Underpin or Undermine Democracy? - Foundation Office South Africa
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Academics and policy makers acknowledge that elections on their own do not secure a country’s peaceful and prosperous democracy. They now recognise that political parties and the system that governs their interactions are, in fact, the foundation of political competition.
Past studies of party systems have traced development trajectories for Western political parties and a few have categorised different systems across the African continent. Most authors, however, have limited their appraisal to the historical context from which party systems emerged and the effect this context has had on each country’s specific electoral process. But political parties are also social actors that compete and interact with each other in societal, parliamentary and governmental arenas.
For this reason, researchers are now shifting their attention to the role political parties play and are keen to assess the affect a country’s party system has on its domestic affairs and its general policy formation.
This book will assess the wider consequences of South Africa’s party system on the country’s democracy.
After providing the historical and theoretical backdrop for the current system, the book’s authors will assess the affects (both pro and con) of the system on: the internal dynamics of each of South Africa’s larger political parties; the electoral system; the parties, their evolving ideology and policy platforms; public opinion; the process of reconciliation; parliamentary performance and oversight capacities; public participation and fielding civil society’s input; and, the affect on the country’s foreign policy decisions.
The concluding chapter will assess the state of South Africa’s party system and posit future possibilities given the results of the 2016 election cycle.