The Sources of Opposition Party Strength

Adrienne LeBas

in From Protest to Parties

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199546862
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728594 | DOI:
The Sources of Opposition Party Strength

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Why do we see the emergence of strong, cross-ethnic opposition parties in some democratizing regimes, while opposition parties in other countries remain organizationally underdeveloped and often fragment on ethnic lines? Chapter 2 provides a more detailed account of the book’s two major arguments. It begins by defining party strength, focusing especially on the organizational qualities of strong, durable parties. It then turns to the theoretical framework fleshed out in the remainder of the book. The first argument is that authoritarian strategies of rule left in place institutional structures that either facilitated or impeded cross-ethnic collective action. Where authoritarian states relied on alliances with organized labor, they created mobilizing structures that could later be used by opposition parties. Secondly, the book argues that polarizing and confrontational strategies build stronger parties. These kinds of appeals and tactics, however, also raise the likelihood of violence and authoritarian backlash. The book, therefore, underlines one of the ambiguities inherent in democratization: democracy requires strong parties, but party-building is more effective where it intensifies conflict.

Keywords: opposition political parties; social movements; opposition movements; party strength; party development; party organization; party systems; organized labor; Kenya; Zimbabwe; Zambia

Chapter.  12997 words. 

Subjects: Politics

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