The ANC and power concentration in South Africa: does local democracy allow for power-sharing?
This chapter explores the sub-region's political and historical context that has shaped the worldview of most opposition parties. It challenges the notion of African parties as uniquely exotic, clientelist machines that lack an interest in issues or substance, by showing that in West Africa, as elsewhere, rhetoric and ritual are related to substantive political debate. The political life in Francophone West Africa is alive with political issues, some of which are used by parties to mobilize voters. The chapter describes the theory of issue-ownership from American politics to the context of African politics. West African politics parties' rhetoric and rituals should be understood based on their own unique political heritage. All political rituals provide politicians with an idiom, with which to communicate with voters regarding the three major valence issues in West African politics, economic development, democracy, and sovereignty. Issues related to development, democracy, and sovereignty, while currently used in valence appeals, could be dissected and presented to voters.