PPA seminar: Ciara McCorley

PPA seminar: Ciara McCorley

Department of Politics and Public Administration Seminar
 
Wednesday, 6th April | Room C0079 | 2.00 PM
 
Ciara McCorley,  Adjunct lecturer African politics, development and democratization, PPA 
 
'Finding the sweet spot: trade unions, sectoral power and transitional politics in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe'
 
This paper focuses on the comparative impact of trade unions on transitional politics and outcomes in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  In all three countries, trade unions have participated in and been part of the popular upsurge during moments of regime instability, and have informed the development of pro-democratic party politics.  Yet the three countries have experienced significantly different outcomes following periods of regime instability and popular mobilization.  Both South Africa and Zambia transitioned to inclusive multiparty regimes with both democratic and authoritarian elements, yet Zimbabwe did not transition at all, merely flirting with multiparty politics between 2008-2013, and re-entrenching authoritarianism in 2013.  The argument forwarded in this paper posits that trade unions can impact significantly on a transitional outcome in a ‘sweet spot’ of mobilization, when the conditions are just right.  Outside of this sweet spot, their influence declines.  Using a sectoral analysis in the examination of the three cases, this paper identifies conditions that account for the divergent regime outcomes.  I argue that trade unions can be most effective in positively influencing a transition to a more democratic outcome when they are engaged in economically dominant sectors and when they can build strong alliances with other social and economic groups that bolster their power relative to the state. 
 
All welcome!