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Ideologically compatible parties needed

Political analyst, Shakespeare Hamauswa said there was a possibility of a coalition between the MDC formations since they united against Zanu PF over the court ruling. However, for that to happen, Hamauswa said, compromises should be made.

On the coalition between Mugabe and Tsvangirai to deny Ncube a place on the principals’ table, Hamauswa said on reflection Ncube “will realise that it was not necessarily that he didn’t attend because of Tsvangirai but that he had created a monster in Arthur Mutambara”.

He said the political parties have learnt from history what mistakes they have made and have an opportunity to correct them.

In the 2008 elections MDC threw its weight behind independent candidate Simba Makoni.

Tsvangirai got 44,87% of the votes, which were inadequate to secure him the presidential post.

Mugabe got 43,24% while Makoni managed 8,31%.

Had the two formations entered into a coalition, Tsvangirai would have smiled all the way to State House.

Oxford University lecturer, Phillan Zamchiya, said there were key determinants to the formation of a pre-electoral pact and the question was whether these were strongly present in Zimbabwe or not.

Zamchiya said for a coalition to happen, there is need for ideologically compatible parties. He said the two MDC formations are compatible ideologically and very little separates them.

If the electoral threshold to form a government are high, Zamchiya said, parties are encouraged to form a pact.

“In Zimbabwe it is high, you need 50% plus one vote to be President,” he said.

Zamchiya said if political parties have asymmetrical electoral regional strength, then a coalition was more likely and this is moreso if there are trends of identity-based voting rather than issue-based voting.

“The 2008 election shows us MDC-N had support in Matabeleland South and MDC-T in other provinces,” he said.

He said what threatens the coalition is that the parties have asymmetrical electoral strengths. He said the MDC-T had a broader support base compared to MDC-N, adding that it would have been easier if they had relatively the same electoral strength.

Zamchiya said what threatens the coalition was an element of proportional representation, “so smaller parties can thrive without an electoral pact”.

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