Coordinated since the beginning by Nuno Vidal and Justino Pinto de Andrade, the project gathered several Universities and myriad civil society organizations over the years, through its three phases:
1st phase 2004-2009 (Angolan Catholic University & University of Coimbra-Faculty of Economy);
2nd phase 2010-2014 (Angolan Catholic University, Centre of Social Studies - University of Coimbra & Wageningen University);
3rd phase 2015-2018 (CEI-ISCTE-IUL & Angolan Catholic University)
The current project Pluralism: Democratization and Electoral Integrity in Angola and Mozambique (P-DEIAM), comes in sequence with the 3rd phase of our project, touching two central areas of our previous research work – electoral processes, political praxis, conflict and security issues & relationships between local and central power through electoral processes. The project takes two cases for comparison – Angola and Mozambique, through the analysis of general and local elections.
This project assesses the impact of electoral integrity on pluralism, democratisation and security in Angola and Mozambique, comparing both cases through the analysis of specific electoral processes: the Angolan 2021 local election; Mozambique 2018 municipal election and 2019 Mozambique general election.
We will measure Electoral Integrity in Angolan and Mozambique electoral processes according to international standards criteria, to assess how electoral processes in these countries are respecting international standards on Electoral Integrity and therefore assess if those processes are contributing to pluralism, democracy and security.
We test the assumption that the impact of electoral integrity on pluralism and democratization on those two countries depends on the balance of forces between two opposing forces:1) attempts by the neo-patrimonial regimes in place and its governments to distort electoral integrity as a strategy to maintain its political hegemony (through violent and non-violent actions); 2) actions (with or without associated political violence) taken by other society sectors and actors (e.g. individual citizens, civil society organisations, media, churches, political parties, unions and international partners) trying to get the government to abide by the law on electoral integrity to take the most out of the opportunity created by electoral processes for pluralism.
So far, in the Angolan case, the first logics has been progressively smashing the second and electoral processes in different contexts (1992, 2008, 2012, 2017) have been reaffirming the MPLA’s hegemony in the multiparty era, being in power since independence (November 1975), raising social tension. As for the Mozambican case, multiparty electoral processes also resulted in consecutive victories for the party in power since 1975, having won all elections, from presidential and legislative (1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2014, 2019) to municipal (1998, 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018). However, the first logics has not been able to smash the second, whereby Frelimo victory expresses hegemony without domination and violence has been recurrent in different degrees over the years.
Within our broader project on democratization and development processes in Southern Africa we now want to focus on a more technically and conceptually deeper comparison of electoral integrity, pluralism and electoral security in two Southern African countries – Angola and Mozambique, through those mentioned electoral processes. These countries are particularly fit for comparative studies. They do present several similarities in terms of political historical path, but they also show different outcomes in terms of pluralism and democratization and articulation with electoral violent practices.
Angola has been usually presented as a case of innocuous electoral ritualistic disguising the distortion of electoral integrity, authoritarianism and lack of effective pluralism and democratization in not so violently explicit electoral processes, while Mozambique had so far been presented as a case where the transition had been peaceful (despite recurrent episodes of electoral violence), electoral integrity has been contested but not abrogated and meaning some effective pluralism and democratization when compared to Angola (although such scenario seems to have been changing with recent violent uprisings in the Northern province of Cabo Delgado).
The similarities in terms of the political path of former Socialist single-parties and transitions and the dissimilarities in terms of pluralism outcome and electoral violence, do represent an excellent opportunity for comparison in terms of the effects of electoral integrity on the democratization and pacification of so-called neo-patrimonial regimes, characterized by their pursuit for hegemony through violent and non-violent means.
Electoral integrity might open some effective space for counter-hegemonic forces and therefore a breach for pluralism and democratization, especially during electoral processes. How exactly those two opposite forces interact in electoral processes and what is the contribution of electoral integrity standards for pluralism, democratization and peace is what this study tries to assess in Angola and Mozambique through the analysis of electoral processes.
Previous research activities of the broader project since 2004
The project adopted a participatory research methodology, gathering African and Western academics and researchers in the project's myriad publications and events, including national and international conferences, thematic workshops and seminars, seeking to cross-fertilise and learn from different experiences.
Within its two major research areas – democratization (politics) and development (economy) – the project started in 2004 by exploring the first area – politics -, through two sequential research programs. The 1st ran from 2004 to 2007, focused on the transition to multiparty politics in Angola, discussing the myriad problems of conflict resolution and challenges faced by the country after the civil war (ended in 2002). Major output of this program was the book “Transiton to multiparty politics in Angola” (with 3 consecutive editions). The 2nd ran from 2007 to 2009, analyzing the role of civil society in the construction and consolidation of democracy, with a special focus on the relationships between civil society and political parties and governments. Major outputs of this program were the 3 books: “Civil Society and Politics in Angola: regional and international framework. ”; “Southern Africa: Civil Society, Politics and Donor Strategies; Angola, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa” and “What went not without saying…” (a tribute book to one of our researchers deceased in 2010).
In 2009/2010, the project entered its 2nd phase, exploring its second area – development economy. Two research programs were structured at this phase and developed in parallel. The 1st centered on the analysis of economic policies in its relationship with political systems (studied in the first phase of the project), analyzing natural resources management, investment, economic growth and revenue distribution. Major output of this program was the book “Political Economy and Development in Angola”. The 2nd focused on human development, poverty reduction and poverty eradication, socio-economic equity and regional and sectorial balanced development as a way to political and economic stability. Major output of this program was the book “Poverty Eradication in Southern Africa: Mozambique, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola”. This second phase of the project extended up to 2014.
In 2015, the Project initiates its third phase, dedicated to the analysis of recent evolution of political systems within the Southern Africa region, with two main programs. The 1st is centered on electoral and constitutional processes in its relationship with political praxis, security and the international context. The 2nd is dedicated to the relationships between local and central power in its most recent developments, with special attention to local electoral processes.