I ask where African opposition parties organize. Party-building is communicative; it involves persuading people to become activists. The literature suggests that opposition parties organize where people are receptive to their messages and build outwards from there. I study Chadema’s opposition party-building through site-intensive fieldwork. Chadema organized primarily in such receptive areas, but also in four unreceptive constituencies. I use these deviant constituencies to refine the literature. Prior theory neglects the heterogeneity of party-building. I decompose party-building into three modes as follows: by touring leaders, branches and concentrating leaders. Concentrating leaders dedicate their organizing to single places. They employ small rallies which afford interactive, individualized and iterative communication. This personalized communication enables them to overcome initial unreceptiveness to their messages. I conclude that opposition parties can organize in unreceptive areas, but only through the personalized methods of these ‘lone organizers’. Altogether, I show how and through whom opposition parties organize in hostile environments.
Paget, D. (2022). Lone organizers: Opposition party-building in hostile places in Tanzania. Party Politics, 28(2), 223–235. https://doi.org/10.1177/13540688211041034