The Electoral Process and the 2007 Snap Elections in Lesotho
Review of Southern African Studies
A bstract A n thon y D ow ns (1957), in his celebrated w ork, 'An Economic Theory o f D em ocracy', argued, that parties w ere political firm s in business o f selling packages o f policies in ord er to m axim ise votes so as to be able to win an d en joy the fru its o f g ov ern m en t office. W hile on the other hand voters w ere political con su m ers, using their votes as political cu rren cy to pu rchase the p u b lic policies on offer at a gen eral election. These voters w ere n ot tied
... s w ere n ot tied to an y party but they w ere rational, m axim ising, free-th in k in g an d were determ ined to gain m axim um return by votin g f o r a p arty o f their choice. These voters elect a party that offered them the best policy package at the low est tax cost. A s it w ill becom e clear in this paper, m ost o f the rural voters fr o m 61 con stitu en cies ou t o f a total o f 80 in 2007 Lesotho election, elected L esotho C ongress for D em ocracy (LCD) probably on the basis o f D ow ns' observations above. LCD popu larised fr e e education an d a pen sion scheme policies fo r the elderly who had never been em p loy ed before. The task o f this p aper is to evalu ate this perception in relation to the rational choice theory. The paper will also assess the rational choice m odel in line with the above description to ascertain w hether the LCD, a party that has been w in n in g election s in Lesotho fro m 1998 to 2007 has been voted on the basis o f this model. The p aper does not claim that rational choice m odel will provide a definitive an sw er to this project, but it w ill attem pt to analyse patterns that m ay appear to reflect som e sim ilarities with the model. H ow ever, this w ould not m ean that, by testing this model on LCD policies, the m odel is beyon d criticism since rational m odel is n oted f o r its com plexities when applied to empirical cases.