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Shane Mac Giollabhuí, "How things fall apart: Candidate selection and the cohesion of dominant parties in South Africa and Namibia," Party Politics, 19 (July 2013), 577-600. [Available at ]

First paragraph:
This article is about how dominant political parties, competing in divided societies, select parliamentary candidates, and whether variation in such candidate selection mechanisms influences party cohesion.1 The subject of our investigation, then, is quite specific, but it is joined at the hip with a bigger question in comparative politics -- the conditions under which democracy can survive in 'plural [divided] societies' (Lewis, 1965: 64). Such countries face a stern test: 'free institutions', according to J.S. Mill (1958 [1861]: 230), 'are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities'. Considering such hard cases, consociational theorists have argued that carefully designed institutional structures -- particularly proportional electoral systems -- can dampen the destabilizing influences of social and ethnic diversity (Andeweg, 2000).

Figures and Tables:
Figure 1. Typology of Candidate Selection Systems.
Table 1. Case Selection Criteria.
Table 2. Demographic Profile of the Swapo Parliamentary Party.

Last Paragraph:
Finally, can we say anything about the usefulness of (Closed-List) PR in new (divided) democracies? Do proportional electoral systems produce, invariably, castiron 'accommodative' incentives to elites? What variables might intervene to condition this relationship? A proportional electoral system is 'the cardinal mechanism' of the consociational approach to institutional design in divided societies (Diamond and Plattner, 2006: xiii). Yet, the palliative effect of PR is uncertain: in new African democracies, there is no firm association between PR and stable, multi-party electoral competition. In this article, we suggest that candidate selection inside dominant parties is an important variable, which mediates the accommodative incentives offered by proportional electoral systems. In our two case studies, we gather strong evidence to support the causal relationship between candidate selection and party cohesion, while cross-case analysis suggests this finding might be felt beyond the immediate confines of our individual cases.

Last updated November 2013