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Decisions on democracy: The politics of constitution-making in South Africa 1990-1996
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Government.
2000 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Constitution making was at the very centre of the-troubled but ultimately successful SouthAfrican transition to democracy. Despite divergent and contradictory demands on thenature of a future democratic constitution, and the ever-present risk of a return to armedconflict in a vicious circle of violence and distrust, the South African patties reached acompromise that so far has been the foundation of six years of multiparty democracy.Herein lie lessons for scholarship and practitioners on the constructive formulation ofdemocratic constitutions as means of ending otherwise intractable political conflicts.

Our interpretation of the compromise differs with those of central scholars who claim avictory for consociationalism. Our definition of the constitution as one that realises'modified majoritarianism' begs the question how it was accepted by the former regime.The central methodological argument of this thesis is that the process, dynamic and natureof the constitutional compromise can only be understood correctly through an empiricalanalytical narrative of the strategic interaction between the political elites as they sought todominate the formulation of the compromise. Rational choice theory and game theorymodelling provide the analytical tools to argue a parsimonious explanation of the immensecomplexities that informed elites' choices to participate in democracy on conditions ofvarious institutional arrangements.

By formulating the logic of the interaction between the central parties at critical phasesof the process we are able to trace the changes in the parties calculations on strategy andcontent, thus clarifying when and on what conditions 'co-operation' became the preferredoption over 'defection'. Whereas the formal institutions gave the compromise a majoritarian bias, the underlying logic to the compromise suggests the need for a constantbalancing of majority and minority interests in governing South Africa. The consolidationof democracy thus hinges on the same realisation that brought parties together to makedecisions on democracy in 1990 - peace and progress stand a chance in South Africa onlyif politics represents the complexities and aspirations of all constituencies in democraticSouth Africa.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis , 2000. , 325 p.
Keyword [en]
Political science, democratisation, constitutionalism, constitution-making, institutional choice, consociationalism, South Africa
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Political Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-64ISBN: 91-506-1394-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-64DiVA: diva2:167743
Public defence
2000-05-29, Brusewitzsalen, Gamla torget 2, Uppsala, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2000-05-08 Created: 2000-05-08 Last updated: 2010-01-13Bibliographically approved

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