Nationalistic Branding in African Inaugural Ruling Party Support

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Paul Friesen
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.

Speakers / Related People
Paul Friesen

This profile was current as of 2022, when he was part of the on-campus Kellogg community. Paul Friesen is a PhD candidate in political science and a Dissertation Year Fellow at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, graduating July 2022. Paul’s research centers on developing an in-depth understanding of political behavior, party attachment, and electoral competition across African countries...
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