The electoral process and the 2007 snap elections in Lesotho

In his celebrated work, ‘An Economic Theory of Democracy’ (1957), Anthony Downs argued that parties are political firms selling packages of policies in order to maximize votes so as to be able to win and enjoy the fruits of government office, while on the other hand voters are political consumers, using their votes as political currency to purchase the public policies on offer at a general election. These voters are not tied to any party but they are rational, maximizing, free-thinking and determined to gain maximum return by voting for a party of their choice. These voters elect a party that offers them the best policy package at the lowest tax cost. This paper demonstrates that most of the rural voters, from 61 constituencies out of a total of 80 in the 2007 Lesotho elections, elected the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) probably on the basis of Downs’ observations. LCD popularized free education and a pension scheme policy for the elderly who had never been employed before. This paper evaluates this perception in relation to the rational choice theory. The paper also assesses the rational choice model in line with the above description to ascertain whether the LCD, a party that has been winning elections in Lesotho from 1998 to 2007, has been voted for on the basis of this model. The paper does not claim that the rational choice model will provide a definitive answer to this project, but it analyses patterns that may appear to reflect some similarities with the model. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract, edited]

Title: The electoral process and the 2007 snap elections in Lesotho
Author: Likoti, Fako
Year: 2008
Periodical: Review of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1024-4190)
Volume: 12
Issue: 1-2
Period: December
Pages: 150-183
Language: English
Notes: biblio. refs.
Geographic terms: Lesotho
Southern Africa
Abstract: In his celebrated work, ‘An Economic Theory of Democracy’ (1957), Anthony Downs argued that parties are political firms selling packages of policies in order to maximize votes so as to be able to win and enjoy the fruits of government office, while on the other hand voters are political consumers, using their votes as political currency to purchase the public policies on offer at a general election. These voters are not tied to any party but they are rational, maximizing, free-thinking and determined to gain maximum return by voting for a party of their choice. These voters elect a party that offers them the best policy package at the lowest tax cost. This paper demonstrates that most of the rural voters, from 61 constituencies out of a total of 80 in the 2007 Lesotho elections, elected the Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) probably on the basis of Downs’ observations. LCD popularized free education and a pension scheme policy for the elderly who had never been employed before. This paper evaluates this perception in relation to the rational choice theory. The paper also assesses the rational choice model in line with the above description to ascertain whether the LCD, a party that has been winning elections in Lesotho from 1998 to 2007, has been voted for on the basis of this model. The paper does not claim that the rational choice model will provide a definitive answer to this project, but it analyses patterns that may appear to reflect some similarities with the model. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract, edited]