Dez jogadores contra um guarda-rede. Angola: The Dynamics of State and Civil Society 2002-2007

Schubert, Jon. Dez jogadores contra um guarda-rede. Angola: The Dynamics of State and Civil Society 2002-2007. 2008, Master Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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Since the advent of peace, the Angolan government has repeatedly professed its intention to hold general and presidential elections. By now (Sept. 2007) the process of voter registration has been completed, and a date for the elections has been set (Sept. 2008). Although formal conditions are likely to be completed, there is little potential for a change in the balance of power. In retrospect, the two short periods of relative peace in the 1990s appeared to have opened up new spaces for civil society. This raised the hope that, in addition to the stabilization of the country, peace would bring about the opening up of political space.I argue, however, that this is not the case. Based on interviews and observations made in Angola in March and August 2007, this thesis demonstrates that the Angolan government is reinforcing its control over all aspects of social, economic and political life. Unchallenged by military or political opponents and buoyed by the oil-backed Chinese credit the president's position appears stronger than ever, and he shows little intention of relinquishing power. The government has, again, become almost undistinguishable from the party and the state. Representatives of Angolan civil society organisations complain about the increasing partidarização  that affects their daily work, and stacks the cards in favour of the incumbents.The thesis examines the experiences of Angolan civil society during the voter registration process that took place between November 2006 and September 2007. It triggered a dynamic that engaged a large number of non-state actors. Angolan NGOs, the churches, and international donor organisations tried to influence the process and its outcomes.Local associations who pursue a specific agenda in the context of the elections are, through this, interlinked with the broader system of international development cooperation and its democratization agenda. The focus on this relatively narrow set of actors allows us a close look at the interactions unfolding prior to the elections. These take place in political arenas that are relevant to the state, as they connect with the internationally predominant discourse on democratization. By entering this public space, civil society associations tap into the resources, media channels and international networks of the international system of states and multilateral agencies. While the registo eleitoral appears to have been a success in terms of registered voters, it seems doubtful whether the electoral process can really bring about political change and a tangible improvement of the living conditions of the Angolan population. Angola’s current political situation does not appear unique when compared to other African countries that have formally adopted multiparty democracy. Internationally, ‘competitive authoritarianism’ is emerging as a specific form of government that can no longer be viewed as an incomplete or protracted transition to democracy. These regimes ostensibly 'play by the rules' of democracy, while in practice they are constantly subverting its meaning. Under such circumstances, there is an increasing need for researchers to re-conceptualize donor assistance to democratization.Nonetheless, the ‘acting out’ of democracy offers some inroads for Angolan civil society. While Angola might display the typical characteristics of a system of 'electoral', 'competitive' authoritarianism, or of a 'semi-authoritarian' democracy, it is certainly not a totalitarian regime. Some form of accommodation between the different stakeholders in a political process is necessary to keep the system stable. It is known by now that the Angolan government is not the most transparent or democratic on earth – but people, or in this case, Angolan NGOs, can and do cope with the situation. The analysis of the voter registration process details the strategies of different, unequal actors in a specific arena of contested public authority; it highlights how Angolan non-state actors employ the hegemonic democratization discourse to gain influence in a tightly controlled political process, and how an authoritarian government like Angola's is equally using it as a resource to consolidate its power.
Advisors:Harries, Patrick
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Geschichte > Ehemalige Einheiten Geschichte > Geschichte Afrikas (Harries)
UniBasel Contributors:Harries, Patrick
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Master Thesis
Thesis status:Complete
Last Modified:05 Apr 2018 17:39
Deposited On:06 Feb 2018 11:28

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