Angola: Struggle for Peace and Reconstruction

By Inge Tvedten | Go to book overview

3
POLITICAL IDEOL06Y AND PRACTICE

The central theme in postindependence political developments in Angola has been the discrepancy between political ideology and practice. A political ideology that places a strong emphasis on the party and the state stands in contrast with a party without a real political base and a state apparatus with serious deficiencies. Since the political liberalization that began at the end of the 1980s, the policy framework has changed, but the discrepancies between ideology and practice have been just as striking: Instead of democratization, the order of the day has been centralization of power and a political system unable to perform. The interlude with peace, political reform, and democratic elections between 1990 and 1992 was too brief to have a real impact, even though it did create the basis for a possible democratic system in the future.

The discrepancy between what is and what could have been in the period after 1975 has largely been attributed--and rightly so--to the colonial heritage and the continuous war situation. The Portuguese developed a political system with no popular influence or democratic base, along with heavily centralized and inefficient bureaucratic structures. And the war has created a situation of constant political instability, with the armed forces as a central political actor.

However, there are also internal policies and developments that should be included in the explanation. The extreme centralization of decisionmaking has resulted in policies that have been out of tune with political and economic realities. And the lack of popular participation in decisionmaking processes has widened the gap between the political and economic elite and the population at large. For Angolans, who are now passing through a time of political and economic turmoil

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