Intra-party politics and the future of democracy in nigeria onyishi, anthony obayi university of nigeria

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Political parties are in themselves institutions since they encapsulate rules of behavior, both formal and informal. The role they play in the political process of any society is therefore quintessentially institutional roles. But they operate within a formal structural context which ought to shape the boundaries of their operations. Furthermore, the dominant norm orientation of the operators of the party system in Nigeria, as elsewhere in most emerging democracies, tends to display some dissonance that point to the uneasiness between formal rules and real rules of party conduct. Hence the conjuncture of old and new institutions seems to be marked. I refer specifically to the largely irreconcilable positions of certain dominant elements in the political parties and the formal rules of party politics designed by the founding fathers, ostensibly at least, to align with broad objective of advancing the national democratic cause. The institutional framework enables us to put in bold relief this seemingly irreconcilable goals of individual politicians and the broad objective of intraparty democracy etched on the sterling principles of equity, fair playand transparency, in choosing party candidates for broader inter-party electoral competition. The framework also, directs us to the underlying character of politics in Nigeria which intra-party crisis is but a manifestation: the character of the state, the nature of politics itself, the framing of electoral competition, etc.

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