Difficult to break 1-party domination in Tanzania

December 09, 2009

Opposition parties in Tanzania have still not managed to convincevoters that they are capable of running the country since the introduction of a multiparty system at the beginning of the 1990s. According to a new thesis at the University of Gothenburg, instead of losing its dominant position, the ruling party, CCM, has consistently strengthened its position in parliament following each election.

"Strengthening democracy in Tanzania is not just about establishing the formal structures for a multiparty system. It's also about creating understanding at an individual level of how a multiparty system promotes democracy in a country," says Petri Ruotsalainen, who has been studying the process of democratisation in Tanzania.

The thesis on peace and development research investigates the reasons behind the ruling party's persistently strong position, and examines the opportunities and obstacles that may exist in relation to consolidating a democratic multiparty system in Tanzania.

"When the multiparty system was introduced and people were supposed to start voting for different parties, many were extremely afraid that there would be massacres in Tanzania similar to those that occurred in Rwanda," says Petri Ruotsalainen. Another picture of the democratisation process.

The political democratisation process Petri Ruotsalainen has studied the rural population in Tanzania's experience of the transition from a one-party system to a multiparty system based on the political democratisation process in the country, and through anthropological field work.

The thesis reveals a picture of the democratisation process that differs from the traditional western view. Tanzanians are used to a one-party system, and the country has experienced domestic peace, unity and harmony since it gained independence, which cannot be said of Tanzania's neighbouring countries.

One of the conclusions of the thesis is that the country's history of having one party, a father of the nation such as Julius Nyerere, and the political ambition of upholding peace, unity and harmony in the country has been used as an argument against a multiparty system, which manifests itself in a strong level of support for CCM at election time.

"The ruling party also uses these concepts to show the electorate that they are the only party that can guarantee these values. This gives the party a special and unique position, which the opposition parties are unable to compete with," says Petri Ruotsalainen.
-end-
Title of thesis: Under the Same Shade. Popular Perceptions of Political Change and the Challenges of Consolidating Multiparty Democracy in Tanzania

Internet link: http://hdl.handle.net/2077/21268

Author of thesis: Petri Ruotsalainen,
tel +46 (0)31 7861325 (work),
+46 (0)733 579545 (mobile.),
e-mail: petri.ruotsalainen@globalstudies.gu.se

Opponent appointed by the faculty:
Professor Göran Hydén, University of Florida, Gainesville, USA

Time and venue for defence of thesis: Wednesday 2 December 2009

University of Gothenburg

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