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AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF OPPOSITION PARTIES ON ELECTORAL DYNAMICS OF CAMEROON

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AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE IMPACT OF OPPOSITION PARTIES ON ELECTORAL DYNAMICS OF CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE:

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

The political environment in Cameroon has been characterised by an intricate interaction of several elements, such as the existence and actions of opposition parties. Cameroon has seen a wide array of political movements, changes, and elections since achieving independence in 1960. In this context, opposition parties have developed as significant actors, posing a challenge to the prevailing authority of the governing party and exerting influence on electoral procedures and results. The objective of this research is to examine the complex interplay between opposition parties and the election dynamics in Cameroon, with the intention of providing insights into their influence and importance (Arriola, DeVaro & Meng, 2021). 

Modern Cameroon's political history may be categorised into four distinct eras. The first phase included a period of complete reliance on the colonial authority, spanning from 1884 to 1945, whereby the nation lacked representative institutions. The second phase, spanning from 1945 to 1960/61, saw the successful transition of Cameroonians into a democratic society (Bernhard, Edgell, & Lindberg, 2020). The third period commenced on January 1st, 1960, marked by the declaration of independence in French Cameroon and the subsequent reunification of West and East Cameroons in 1961 under a federal framework. The fourth period, which took place on May 20, 1972, witnessed the abolition of the federal structure, referred to as the 'Peaceful Revolution' by the former Head of State, Ahmadou Ahidjo (Buckles, 2019).

An in-depth analysis of the historical context is essential for comprehending the current election dynamics in Cameroon. The nation has seen substantial political transformations, transitioning from a period of single-party governance under President Ahmadou Ahidjo to the implementation of a multi-party system by President Paul Biya in the early 1990s. The aforementioned transformation has facilitated the rise of opposition parties, which have subsequently had a significant influence on the political framework of the nation (Clark & Linzer, 2015). Nevertheless, the impact and efficacy of these entities have shown fluctuations throughout history, influenced by a range of circumstances including governmental suppression, internal schisms, and socio-economic obstacles. In Cameroon, the political landscape is marked by a prevailing governing party, the Cameroon People's Democratic Movement (CPDM), under the leadership of President Paul Biya, who has held office since 1982. The CPDM has effectively retained its hold on power by using a strategic approach that encompasses patronage, electoral manipulation, and the repression of dissent, despite the existence of many opposition parties (Gandhi & Buckles, 2016). Nevertheless, opposition parties have persistently engaged in electoral contests and garnered support, while encountering several challenges and limitations. Therefore, the study  investigate the impact of opposition parties on electoral dynamics of Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Cameroon, a country characterised by its diversity and political dynamism, has seen a multifaceted interaction of political forces throughout its election procedures. The inclusion and impact of opposition parties play a pivotal role in defining the electoral environment. Nevertheless, there is still a substantial knowledge deficit regarding the intricate mechanisms via which opposition parties influence the electoral dynamics of Cameroon (Kelly, 2018). The objective of this study is to fill the existing knowledge vacuum by examining the many dimensions of the correlation between opposition parties and election procedures in Cameroon. Although the presence of opposition parties is recognised, there is a lack of comprehensive understanding about the precise processes by which they exert impact on election dynamics in Cameroon (Nyrup & Bramwell, 2020). The objective of this study is to investigate and evaluate the characteristics and magnitude of the influence that opposition parties have on different facets of the election process. The full assessment of the role played by opposition parties in moulding voter behaviour and affecting public opinion during elections is a crucial feature. A comprehensive evaluation of Cameroon's electoral dynamics necessitates a thorough comprehension of the role played by opposition parties in influencing the political ideas and decisions of the voting population. The impact of opposition parties on electoral institutions plays a pivotal role in upholding the principles of fairness and integrity within the election process. The examination of the correlation between opposition parties and electoral institutions will provide insight into the institutional mechanisms that either enable or impede a democratic and equitable election setting (Ross & Mahdavi, 2015). Likewise, the electoral dynamics of Cameroon are further complicated by the presence of a heterogeneous regional environment. The objective of this study is to investigate the geographical disparities in the influence of opposition parties, taking into account aspects such as cultural, social, and economic distinctions that might potentially affect election results in distinct ways across different areas. It is essential to investigate the possible ramifications of opposition parties on the broader political stability of Cameroon. The primary objective of this study is to examine the impact of opposition parties on political stability, specifically investigating whether their actions and influence contribute to such stability or whether they bring aspects of disagreement that might potentially undermine the nation's long-term governance and stability (Samuels & Zucco, 2015). This study seeks to provide useful insights to the scholarly and policy debate on the influence of opposition parties on the election dynamics of Cameroon. By addressing these important problems, it hopes to enhance our knowledge of the country's political scene.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to investigate the impact of opposition parties on electoral dynamics of Cameroon. The specific objectives is as follows

To analyze the extent of opposition parties involvement in Cameroon's electoral landscape.

To assess the influence of opposition parties on voter turnout during elections in Cameroon.

To investigate the strategies employed by opposition parties to challenge incumbent dominance and promote democratic competition.

To examine the factors that contribute to the success or failure of opposition parties in shaping electoral outcomes in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the extent of opposition parties involvement in Cameroon's electoral landscape?

What is the influence of opposition parties on voter turnout during elections in Cameroon?

What are the strategies employed by opposition parties to challenge incumbent dominance and promote democratic competition?

What are the factors that contribute to the success or failure of opposition parties in shaping electoral outcomes in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study is significant to the following

Informing Policymakers: Findings from the study can serve as a basis for policy recommendations and electoral reforms aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and processes in Cameroon. This includes proposals for electoral law amendments, institutional capacity-building measures, and mechanisms for ensuring electoral integrity.

Contributing to Academic Discourse: The research contributes to the academic literature on comparative politics, democratization, and African studies. It adds to existing knowledge by offering empirical evidence, theoretical frameworks, and methodological insights that can enrich scholarly debates and future research endeavors.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on investigating the impact of opposition parties on electoral dynamics of Cameroon. Empirically, the study will  analyze the extent of opposition parties involvement in Cameroon's electoral landscape, assess the influence of opposition parties on voter turnout during elections in Cameroon, investigate the strategies employed by opposition parties to challenge incumbent dominance and promote democratic competition and examine the factors that contribute to the success or failure of opposition parties in shaping electoral outcomes in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Electoral Process: The sequence of events and procedures involved in the conduct of elections, including voter registration, campaigning, polling, vote counting, and the announcement of results.

Opposition Parties: Political parties in Cameroon that are not in power and whose primary role is to provide alternative policies, perspectives, and candidates to those of the ruling party or parties. 

Electoral Dynamics: The multifaceted interactions, processes, and factors that shape the conduct, outcomes, and significance of elections in Cameroon


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