The Journal of Modern African Studies

Research Article

Electoral competition, factionalism, and persistent party dominance in Botswana*

Amy R. Poteetea1 c1

a1 Department of Political Science, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W., Montreal, QC H3G 1M8, Canada


The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) has maintained a super-majority in the National Assembly for over forty years despite increasingly competitive elections. Several factors contribute to the BDP's continued legislative dominance, including features of the electoral system, fragmentation of the party system, and obstacles to strategic voting behaviour. Factional competition has played a particularly important role. Botswana's political institutions encourage factional competition, and factionalism interacts with the electoral system to hinder consolidation of the party system. Botswana's experience underlines the importance of internal party dynamics and their interaction with features of the electoral and party system in enabling the persistence of legislative dominance in competitive electoral systems.


c1 Email:


* Thanks to the Government of Botswana for permission to conduct this research; the University of Botswana for institutional support; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Concordia University for financial support; Shadreck Balisi and Lawrence Ookeditse for assistance with translations; Jeremy Speight for research assistance; and respondents and friends for assistance and support. I benefited from comments from Éric Allina, Marie-Eve Desrosiers, Otshegeditse Kabo, B. T. Nnuku Mosimakoko-Mosalakgoko, Jack Parson, Sheldon Weeks, and two anonymous reviewers. I alone am responsible for the interpretations advanced in this paper.