Governing from the opposition?’: tracing the impact of EFF’s ‘niche populist politics’ on ANC policy shifts

In: Africa Review
Innocent Batsani-NcubeSOAS, University of London, London, UK

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In December 2017, South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, announced that they will adopt expropriation of land without compensation and free higher education for 90% of students. These policy positions had been associated with the radical left-wing EFF party. This article asks whether the EFF influenced the ANC policy shifts and if they did, how? Leveraging Williams (2006)’s theory of peripheral party impact and the process tracing method, the study finds evidence of EFF direct causal contribution on ANC policy shift on land reform and strong grounds for inferring indirect influence of the EFF on ANC policy shift on higher education funding. Data sources included policy documents, manifestos, speeches by ANC and EFF political leaders and parliamentary motions. The study contributes to the literature on peripheral party impact and understanding populism in Africa.

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