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Political settlement and the politics of legitimation in countries undergoing democratisation: Insights from Tanzania

Rasmus Hundsbaek Pedersen and Thabit Jacob

Global Development Institute Working Paper Series from GDI, The University of Manchester

Abstract: In recent decades, reforms have been introduced in developing countries to promote economic transformation, democracy and the rule of law, but their implementation has often been undermined by structural factors. This is a key insight of the political settlement analysis which has unpacked the sorts of intra-elite relations instrumental in choosing policies and their modes of implementation. However, this analysis is less clear regarding the role of elections and popular legitimacy. This paper aims to explain contemporary forms of power and legitimacy in greater detail. Using Tanzania as a critical case study, we demonstrate that, in the context of democratisation, the country’s political elites are increasingly attempting to earn popular legitimacy. Earlier attempts to earn popular legitimacy through the expansion of social services to the rural majority were radicalised when a new president came to power in 2015. He campaigned on a platform of reversing years of domination by business and political elites. He later crafted a series of nationalist narratives and attacks on private investors to bolster his legitimacy in the eyes of the wider population. This implies a more prominent role for populations in developing countries than is often acknowledged. We also suggest that, in the context of democratisation, analyses of legitimacy should include two more dimensions: first, a political elite’s relationship with its political opponents; and, secondly, international recognition. We therefore argue that legitimacy should be analysed as a source of power in its own right, in line with force and rents.

Date: 2019
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