Nationalistic Branding in African Inaugural Ruling Party Support
PhD candidate, political science
Kellogg Institute Dissertation Year Fellow and PhD Fellow
African political parties have historically been characterized as lacking distinctive ideological platforms; however, several ruling parties consistently engage in strong nationalistic rhetoric. Inaugural ruling parties, the first to ruling after independence, can claim nationalistic branding, as the party and founding leaders often played key roles in the independence struggle. This paper assesses which ruling parties engage in nationalistic messaging and its effectiveness among voters. I compare two ruling inaugural parties – BDP of Botswana and ZANU PF of Zimbabwe – to demonstrate how each has used nationalistic rhetoric using text analysis of party manifestos. Nationalistic messaging is more prevalent in countries with more visceral liberation struggles and when the ruling party is performing poorly. I conduct a video experiment in both countries showing that when patriotism increases, ruling party support among ruling parties significantly increases, has a positive but moderate effect among independents, and no effect among opposition partisans.
Paul Friesen is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Notre Dame and a PhD Fellow of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. Paul’s research centers broadly around democratization with special focus on political parties, elections and political behavior in Sub-Saharan Africa...