Political Parties and Intra-Party Democracy in East Africa: Considerations for Democratic Consolidation

de Bruijn, M. E., & Merolla, D. (2010). Researching Africa: explorations of everyday African encounters. African studies.

25 Pages Posted: 13 May 2020

See all articles by Joshua Maiyo

Joshua Maiyo

United States International University-Africa

Date Written: January 30, 2010

Abstract

Political parties are essential institutions for the proper functioning of a democratic society and perform important functions for the promotion of democracy by mobilizing citizens and linking them to government. To effectively carry out these functions, political parties are expected to incorporate democratic ideals in their internal processes and functioning. Intra-party democracy, as an element of participatory democracy, is widely perceived as necessary for the development of a democratic culture in the wider society. The attainment of these democratic ideals depends on the extent to which processes of effective membership participation are formally stipulated in the organizational rules and practically implemented in political party processes. This chapter examines the state of internal party democracy among political parties in East Africa. It seeks to expand existing know- ledge on intra-party democracy in Africa with specific reference to how processes of institutionalization, inclusiveness and (de)centralization influence levels of participatory democracy among political parties in the region. While debate continues on exactly how much democracy is good for political party effectiveness, the consensus is that intra-party democracy is desirable for its role in increasing levels of participatory democracy in the wider society. The discussion draws on democratic theory and normative approaches to intra-party democracy developed largely from studies of political parties in western democracies while juxtaposing this on empirical research in Africa. International democracy assistance programmes use these models to propose that political party reform processes include aspects related to the internal organization such as intra-party democracy (NIMD 2004). This chapter seeks to determine if and to what extent these models are adequate for the study and analysis of African political parties and party systems. It concludes that whereas intra-party democracy is a desirable ideal, African political parties are products of distinct socio-economic and historical circumstances to which existing models do not fit wholly and need to be reviewed.

Keywords: Political parties, Democracy, East Africa, Intra-party politics

Suggested Citation

Maiyo, Joshua, Political Parties and Intra-Party Democracy in East Africa: Considerations for Democratic Consolidation (January 30, 2010). de Bruijn, M. E., & Merolla, D. (2010). Researching Africa: explorations of everyday African encounters. African studies., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3579313 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3579313

Joshua Maiyo (Contact Author)

United States International University-Africa ( email )

P. O. Box 14634
Nairobi
Nairobi, Nairobi 00800
Kenya

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