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Institutions, Ethnicity, and Political Mobilization in South by Jessica Piombo (auth.)

By Jessica Piombo (auth.)

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These are the threads that political agents weave when crafting a mobilizational strategy that will attempt to piece together winning electoral coalitions. To take just one recent example of this process, consider the attempts to create a stable, democratic government in Iraq. When the United States went into Iraq in March 2003, the administration assumed that the primary cleavages in the Iraqi population were between Sunnis, Shi’a, and Kurds. Therefore, when setting up the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and the Interim Governing Council (IGC), the United States insisted in a power-sharing formula based mainly on providing representation for these three groups.

34 It is a logic similar to the old idea of crosscutting cleavages, but one which takes place within the realm of identity-group distinctions. Group size, combinability, and the relevant sphere of political competition are three important factors shaping strategic choices that have only recently begun to be investigated. First, groups vary in size and the types of ethnic markers that distinguish them, so that they can be combined in various ways. Second, some groups can be nested within others, as the situation warrants, or broken apart.

The ANC was not the only agent in the process, as the power-sharing provisions contained in the Interim Constitution had provided for a Government of National Unity (GNU), in which the NP and the IFP won important positions in 1994. In the drafting of the final constitution, while the ANC was certainly the senior negotiating partner, it nevertheless had to concede to some of the demands and positions of other parties, particularly the NP. 2 Many of principles to which the party committed itself in the Declaration fundamentally influenced both the interim and final constitutions, but not all of the ANC’s principles were adopted.

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