IFG 2 Public Lecture Series: “We disagree on politics, but we eat together” – The parliament as a social space in Ghana, Togo, and Sierra Leone; Speaker: Dr. Anja Osei (University of Konstanz)
Actor-centric approaches to democratization place an emphasis on the development of a consensus on the “rules of the game”. Building on theories of institutional socialization, this paper is arguing that parliaments can be important arenas for the pacification of political struggles and the development of cooperation between political opponents: MPs learn to cooperate with competitors both within and outside their parties and newcomers tend to adapt to the behaviour of senior members. The empirical analysis is built on social network data collected in the national assemblies of three African countries: Ghana, Togo, and Sierra Leone. It will be shown that the level of inter-party reconciliation and cooperation varies systematically with the level of democracy. At the individual level, the length of tenure increases the likelihood of forming cooperative ties between MPs belonging to different parties. In other words, the parliament is a social spaces that might further political reconciliation and inter-party trust, and thereby contribute positively to democratization.
Dr. Anja Osei is an independent researcher (Unabhängige Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin) at the Department of Politics and Public Adminstration/University of Konstanz. She received her PhD from the University of Konstanz/Department of African Studies. She is currently working on the project “Do Legislatures Enhance Democracy in Africa?” which is funded by the European Research Council as an ERC Starting Grant under the Horizon 2020 framework. Her research interests include democratization, political institutions, political elites and political parties in Africa, as well as Social Network Analysis. The fields of interest straddle Political Science, Area Studies, and Sociology. She has done field research in Ghana, Senegal, Togo, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Gabon. Anja Osei has published in leading journals like Comparative Politics, Democratization, Party Politics, and African Affairs.