This book builds bridges between research on authoritarian regimes and external governance promotion; it contributes to research on authoritarian regimes as a sub-field of comparative politics; and it adds to debates on the influence of authoritarian powers on political reforms. Support for governance reforms is still high on the EU’s agenda. Yet, the EU’s good governance policies have recently come under considerable pressure. In particular, three trends—related to EU development policy, the domestic context in African dominant party regimes and China’s Africa policy—suggest that the EU will face considerably more challenges to implement its agenda in the future. In this context, the EU would need to strengthen instruments to support governance reforms ‘beyond’ the field of development policy, and it would need to more strongly differentiate its strategies for engaging with different types of authoritarian dominant party systems.
- Dominant Party System
- Good Governance Policies
- Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)
- Angolan Government
- Union For The Total Independence Of Angola (UNITA)
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
Ideological and strategic competition between democracies and autocracies has forcibly re-entered the international arena. Whether and, if so, how the presence of China affects the EU’s strategies of supporting governance reforms in Africa is one key aspect in these debates.
This book started off with the empirical observation that the EU’s success in using its good governance instruments and making African governments address good governance issues has varied markedly. In the early 2000s, governments in Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda all began more or less reluctantly engaging with the EU on governance reforms. Since the mid-2000s, when China appeared on the horizon, the Rwandan government has (pro) actively cooperated with the EU. The Ethiopian government has remained reluctant in the face of EU demands to engage. The Angolan government has been largely indifferent towards the EU’s requests for cooperation. Against this backdrop, this book has dealt with two main questions. What explains the differences in African governments’ willingness to engage with the EU on governance reforms? To what extent does China’s presence affect African governments’ openness to engage with the EU?
The three case studies have provided explanations for why Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda’s willingness to engage with the EU has changed between 2000 and 2014. This chapter summarises the main findings along the four variables that influence African governments’ responsiveness: EU good governance strategies, African government’ survival strategies, economic dependence on the EU and access to cooperation with China. The following sections discuss how the variables influence African governments’ openness to engage with the EU and how these findings relate to other research on EU good governance policies and authoritarian regimes. This chapter concludes with a brief discussion on the implications for future research and policy-making.
6.1 EU Good Governance Strategies: Not Strategic Enough
The EU has made support for governance reforms a stronger priority in its Africa policy. Comparing the EU’s engagement with Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda demonstrates that the EU has adopted quite different good governance strategies in its relations with individual African countries. The EU’s strategies can be analysed along two dimensions (see Chap. 2). The EU may put emphasis on a different content or substance of good governance and use a different channel to support governance reforms. In addition, it can choose different instruments and promote reforms through either a more conflictive or a more cooperative strategy. The content or substance of what the EU seeks to promote and the instruments the EU uses, both influence African governments’ openness to engage on governance reforms.
How has the EU tried to support good governance in Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda? The EU’s strategies were initially strikingly similar. In the early 2000s, the EU adopted a relatively broad good governance approach and promoted democratic government in its relations with all three countries. It primarily relied on the intergovernmental channel and aimed at strengthening not only the effectiveness and transparency of decision-making processes, but also their democratic quality. The EU also used a very similar cooperative-critical strategy vis-à-vis all three countries. In all of them, it mainly relied on cooperative instruments such as political dialogue and good governance aid to promote reforms, but combined these cooperative instruments with material incentives and public shaming to pressure the three governments into introducing reforms (Table 6.1).
Since mid-2000s, the EU’s good governance strategies towards the three countries have varied markedly. In Angola, the EU has narrowed its understanding of good governance, addressing mainly the capacities of government institutions. The EU’s approach has thus been increasingly limited to promoting effective government. Moreover, the EU has clearly refrained from using critical public statements (shaming) or material incentives to put pressure on the Angolan government. It has shifted towards a cooperative strategy, relying mainly on dialogue and governance aid.
In Ethiopia, the EU has broadened its good governance approach slightly towards democratic governance. The EU provided more support to non-state actors to empower them vis-à-vis the government and continued attempts to promote not only the effectiveness, but also the democratic quality, of decision-making processes. After the 2005 election crisis, the EU used cooperative instruments, such as political dialogue and governance aid, and continued to pressure the Ethiopian government through critical public statements and material incentives. Even though the EU has not used aid funds as leverage, since the mid-2000s it has been more critical vis-à-vis the Ethiopian government than towards Angola or Rwanda.
In Rwanda, relatively little change in the EU’s approach can be observed over time. Since 2005, the EU has continued to support not only the capacities of government institutions and the transparency of political processes, but also the democratic quality of decision-making processes, promoting democratic government. In Rwanda, the EU has not relied on cooperative instruments alone. Instead, it has even rewarded the Rwandan government by increasing development aid and using aid modalities such as direct budget support, signalling the government that the governance situation is seen positively. The EU changed its strategy only in 2012, when it put pressure on Rwanda to stop supporting rebel groups in the eastern provinces of the DRC by withholding and shifting direct budget -support funds to other aid modalities (Fig. 6.1).
Changes in the EU’s policies towards Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda over time cannot easily explain variances in the responsiveness of African governments. The EU initially adopted very similar strategies. In response, all three African governments have reluctantly started to engage. However, despite striking similarities in the EU’s good governance strategies, in the early 2000s some differences could already be observed in the responsiveness of the three governments. Rwanda was slightly more forthcoming in engaging with the EU than Ethiopia. Angola was more hesitant in cooperating with the EU than Ethiopia. If the EU’s strategies were the key factor that would explain African governments’ responsiveness, one would have expected to find stronger similarities there in the early 2000s.
Modifications over time in both the EU’s good governance strategies and African governments’ responsiveness further suggest that the EU’s strategies are not the key factor to explain why African governments are willing to engage. In Rwanda, changes in the EU’s strategies over time seem to have some explanatory power in accounting for changes in the government’s responsiveness. While the EU continued to promote democratic government between 2000 and 2014, since the mid-2000s it has shifted its instruments towards a cooperative-rewarding strategy. One can argue that the EU has thereby increased the benefits and reduced the costs for the Rwandan government, making it easier for Rwanda to engage.
The cases of Angola and Ethiopia, however, exemplify that the EU’s good governance strategies have a limited influence on African governments’ responsiveness. In Ethiopia, the EU has not only continued to use cooperative-critical instruments since the 2005 election crisis, it has also broadened its approach in promoting governance reforms, making it more difficult for the Ethiopian government to engage. Even since the election crisis, the Ethiopian government has continued to at least reluctantly engage with the EU; it has decided not to completely ignore EU demands for cooperation on governance reforms.
In Angola, the EU has narrowed its approach over time and has increasingly refrained from exerting pressure, clearly reducing the costs for the Angolan government to engage. However, even though the EU has made it ‘easier’ for Angola to cooperate, the government has not become more responsive towards the EU. Instead, since 2006 it has largely ignored EU demands for cooperation on governance reforms. Changes in the EU’s strategy thus had no effect on the responsiveness of the Angolan government.
Finally, during a short period of time in Ethiopia (during the 2005 election crisis) and Rwanda (in 2012), the EU used a relatively broad approach and cooperative-conflictive instruments to exert considerable pressure on both governments (notably budget-support suspensions). Nevertheless, despite similarities in the EU’s strategy towards Ethiopia in 2005 and Rwanda in 2012, the Ethiopian government was indifferent towards the EU’s demands for engagement during that period, whereas the Rwandan government has continued to actively cooperate with the EU.
The findings suggest that the EU’s good governance strategies as such have limited explanatory power in accounting for the differences in African governments’ responsiveness. This has been seen most clearly in the case of Angola. Even though the EU has narrowed its strategy over time, the government has become increasingly indifferent to engagement with the EU. This result is interesting in view of the fact that scholars investigating why the EU uses a certain type of instrument or strategy to promote governance reforms in third countries often start by assuming that coherent and consistent EU good governance policies are a necessary condition for the effectiveness of the EU’s strategies (Jünemann and Knodt 2007; Börzel and Risse 2009; Kotzian et al. 2011; Wetzel and Orbie 2011; Del Biondo 2015). However, the empirics here illustrate that the specific strategy that the EU adopts predicts the success of the EU’s policies less clearly than often assumed. Instead, much more attention needs to be paid to the ‘receiving end’ of the EU’s engagement and to understanding the basic preferences and interests of governments in authoritarian regimes in engaging with the EU on governance reforms. The EU’s strategies thus need to be analysed in conjunction with the survival strategies of African governments, their dependence on the EU and access to cooperation with other external actors, such as China.
6.2 Quite Diverse: African Dominant Party Systems’ Survival Strategies
When African governments decide whether to engage with the EU on governance reforms, they assess the costs and benefits that cooperation with the EU entails in light of their domestic survival strategies. The analysis demonstrates that the domestic survival strategies of governments in African authoritarian regimes are the key factor that influences the willingness of these governments to cooperate with the EU.
6.2.1 The Survival Strategies of Dominant Party Regimes: Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda
Governments in African dominant party regimes employ different strategies for increasing their chances of remaining in power. They can decide to invest in the party or the state to strengthen public goods provision or coopt regime opponents and supporters. They may use coercion to open or close political spaces. They may more or less successfully manage arenas of contestation, such as elections, to strengthen their domestic and international legitimacy and signal their firm grip on power to regime opponents. Strong state institutions or strong ruling parties are key for governments in dominant party systems to effectively manage arenas of contestation and use coercion to open or close political spaces. The specific strategies that governments choose are influenced first of all by structural factors, such as access to natural resources (like oil) or how the regime came to power. They are further shaped by situational factors, such as the type of threats from the opposition that governments face during a specific period.
220.127.116.11 Angola: Using the Party and the State for Cooptation
Angola is a dominant party system in which the leadership has developed an extensive patronage network. The Angolan leadership can rely on vast revenues from oil exports that are relatively easy to extract and that require little cooperation from the party or the population. The leadership therefore has made relatively little efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of government institutions or invest in the institutionalisation of party structures. Instead, it uses formal and informal state institutions as well as the ruling party to provide spoils and perks to regime supporters and to coopt regime opponents. The leadership has at times even taken deliberate steps to weaken state institutions to reduce the chances of independent centres of power emerging. In addition to cooptation mechanisms, the government relies on low-intensity coercion to prevent and respond to challenges from the opposition.
In the first few years after the end of the civil war, the Angolan leadership experienced a period of relative stability with very few challenges from within the ruling elite or from the opposition outside the ruling party. Since the 2008 elections, however, dissatisfaction within the MPLA as well as in the broader population has been growing. Compared with the 2008 elections, the government thus faced more difficulties in winning the 2012 (and 2017) elections. In response to mounting dissatisfaction, the leadership invested even more in expanding the ruling party and using the party as an instrument of cooptation. With the drop in oil prices that started in 2014, the government’s financial means for sustaining the extensive patronage system are arguably fading away with unclear implications for the medium- to longer-term stability of the regime.
18.104.22.168 Rwanda: Using Effective State Institutions for Public Goods Provision and Coercion
Unlike Angola, Rwanda is a dominant party system in which the leadership has heavily invested in the effectiveness of government institutions to improve public goods provision. Since the mid-2000s, the Rwandan leadership has been more active in this regard not only compared with Angola but also compared with Ethiopia and other African dominant party systems. At the same time, the Rwandan leadership has relied on low-intensity coercion to prevent challenges to regime survival and it has been successful in managing arenas of contestation.
The Rwandan government faced challenges from within the ruling elite ahead of the 2003 elections. Since the mid-2000s, it has enjoyed a period of relative domestic stability with little challenges from political opponents. Some members of the ruling elite (notably the military and security forces) have defected, but made little attempts to develop a political alternative.
Academic literature and policy debates on Rwanda are highly polarised. Scholars either criticise the authoritarian, repressive political regime (for example Reyntjens 2013) or they highlight Rwanda’s great progress in terms of poverty reduction and economic growth (for example Booth and Golooba-Mutebi 2012). Here it is argued that political repression and public goods provision constitute two sides of the same coin. Rwanda is an example of those very few authoritarian, dominant party systems that invest in effective state institutions to improve public goods provision, while at the same time closing spaces for the media, civil society and opposition parties.
The Rwandan regime has emerged in a very specific context and under very specific structural conditions. Rwanda has scarce domestic resources and a very small territory. The ruling party originates from a military movement that had to fight against the génocidaires with little international (financial or other material) support. It relies on a small political (still) ethnic-based support group. It is therefore no coincidence that it is in Rwanda that a strong authoritarian state with a rational-legal and meritocratic bureaucracy has developed and that these state institutions are not only used for controlling the political arena but also for public goods provision.
22.214.171.124 Ethiopia Somewhere ‘In-Between’: Party Expansion and Effective State, Public Goods, Cooptation and Coercion
Ethiopia is a dominant party system in which the government has also invested in the effectiveness of state institutions. Yet in light of strong challenges from the domestic opposition, the government modified its survival strategies in the mid-2000s, putting more emphasis on party expansion, cooptation and coercion.
In the early 2000s, the Ethiopian leadership adopted a strategy similar to that which the Rwandan government has used since 2006. In response to the split in the TPLF central committee in 2001, the Ethiopian government started to heavily invest in the effectiveness of government institutions with a view to improving public goods provision. At the same time, the government used low-intensity coercion to prevent an opposition from emerging. However, ahead of the 2005 elections, the Ethiopian leadership opened political spaces because it thought that it would be in a secure position. When the opposition made considerable gains in the elections and thereby threatened regime survival, the Ethiopian leadership fundamentally altered its survival strategies. It started to invest more strongly in expanding the ruling party. In parallel, state institutions were increasingly also used as instruments for cooptation.
Some of the structural conditions that impact the governments’ survival strategies are quite similar in Ethiopia and Rwanda: both have very limited access to revenues from natural resources and both parties came to power through a violent struggle during which they had little support from the international community. Instead, differences in Ethiopia’s and Rwanda’s survival strategies since the mid-2000s are caused by varying challenges to regime stability and threats from political opponents. In this regard, Ethiopian and Rwanda nicely illustrate how the domestic political game between the ruler and political opponents from inside or outside the ruling coalition is a key factor in the domestic politics of authoritarian regimes as well as their external relations.
6.2.2 Dominant Party Regimes’ Survival Strategies Meet EU Good Governance Strategies
Comparing Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda at first confirms the widely held assumption that cooperation on governance reforms can generate substantial costs for authoritarian governments. In some countries, such as Angola, cooperation does indeed cause difficulties and brings almost no benefits for the government. However, in other dominant party regimes, such as Ethiopia and Rwanda, cooperation can produce costs and benefits for the government.
126.96.36.199 Angola: Mainly Costs in Engaging on Good Governance Reforms with the EU
In resource-rich, dominant party regimes like Angola that distribute spoils and perks to remain in power, cooperation on governance reforms challenges regime survival. The Angolan leadership has made few attempts to invest in formal state institutions, but relies to an important extent on informal state institutions and the party. In this context, cooperating with the EU, even on a narrow understanding of effective government that ‘only’ involves reforms related to transparency, public financial management, tax reform or the fight against corruption, would be risky. Despite the shift in the EU’s good governance strategy and the EU’s decision to narrow its approach to effective government and to not use conflictive instruments, cooperation has mostly incurred costs for the government. While the Angolan leadership at least partly governed through informal state structures and the party, the EU mostly engages with formal state structures.
On the other hand, cooperation on democratic government would have been challenging for the Angolan government and hardly happened. The government was quite secure in its position ahead of the 2008 elections; in fact, it postponed the election date several times until it was expecting an easy victory. EU support for the elections therefore accrued some benefits in the form of external legitimacy and improvements in international reputation. Ahead of the 2012 elections, however, the Angolan government was under greater domestic pressure due to stronger public opposition and dissatisfaction within the MPLA. In this context, cooperation with the EU on the elections would have potentially been costly, and therefore did not occur.
188.8.131.52 Ethiopia and Rwanda: Costs and Benefits to Engage with the EU
Comparing Angola with Ethiopia and Rwanda demonstrates that in dominant party regimes where governments have a strong genuine interest in building effective states, at least part of the EU’s good governance strategies converges with the preferences of the governments.
Ethiopia and Rwanda both clearly have a stronger interest than Angola in building capable states that generate domestic (tax) revenues and provide public goods to a broader segment of society. In this context, EU support for effective government institutions aligns with the preferences of the government for state modernisation. However, the comparison of Ethiopia and Rwanda shows that the size of these benefits still varies over time. In Rwanda, cooperating with the EU on building an effective state was more attractive after 2005 than in the early 2000s. When the government launched several reform programmes to strengthen the civil service, increase taxes, improve public financial management systems and reduce corruption, the government’s preferences strongly converged with the EU’s offer to support the effectiveness of government institutions.
In the case of Ethiopia, those elements of the EU’s approach that were geared towards strengthening the effectiveness of government institutions converged more strongly with the government’s preferences in the early 2000s than after the 2005 election crisis. In response to the split within the TPLF central committee in 2001, the Ethiopian leadership launched a major reform programme to enhance the effectiveness of state institutions. The EU and other donors’ support for this programme was thus very welcomed by the Ethiopian government. After the 2005 election crisis, building effective government institutions remained important for the Ethiopian leadership. However, state institutions and public goods provision were also increasingly used as mechanisms for cooptation, for instance, by expanding state employment.
At the same time, the Ethiopian leadership invested heavily in expanding the reach of the party and conditioned access to basic social services (at least to some degree) to party membership. When international NGOs accused the Ethiopian government of using aid funds as an instrument of cooptation, the EU and other donors came under considerable pressure. Investing in the party as an instrument of cooptation thus caused friction in EU–Ethiopia relations. In other words, the case of Ethiopia between 2005 and 2010 illustrates that even though the EU does not directly engage with the ruling party as part of its good governance strategies, the Ethiopian leadership’s decision to strengthen the reach of the party can still induce considerable tension for bilateral relations.
Furthermore, comparing Ethiopia and Rwanda reveals that in African dominant party regimes, EU attempts to promote both democratic government and democratic governance can induce various costs and some (few) benefits. These costs and benefits vary depending on the threat from the opposition that the government faces and the survival strategies it uses. Between 2000 and 2004, the EU’s strategies coincided with a period of instability in both Ethiopia and Rwanda. However, both governments’ response strategies varied. Whereas Rwanda closed political spaces to secure its election victory, Ethiopia—at least slightly—opened up. Cooperation on democratic government was thus very risky for Rwanda and easier for Ethiopia. After 2005, the EU’s demands to engage in governance reforms were made during a time of regime stability in the case of Rwanda and regime instability in the case of Ethiopia. While both governments used similar strategies of low-intensity coercion, EU demands to engage in democratic government (and governance) have therefore inflicted substantial costs for the government in Ethiopia, but not in Rwanda. For instance, as the Rwandan government was quite sure of winning the 2008 and 2010 parliamentary and presidential elections, it could engage with the EU. The Ethiopian government, instead, only agreed to cooperate during the 2010 elections, once it was sure to win by a substantial majority.
Several conclusions emerge from this analysis. Cooperation on governance reforms can be risky—but also beneficial—for governments in African dominant party regimes. Academic work on authoritarianism often assumes that the implementation of good governance instruments mostly produces costs (Wright 2009; Cornell 2012; Escribà-Folch and Wright 2015; see also Andrews 2013). By contrast, this book has shown that support for governance reforms may also converge with the preferences of governments in dominant party systems. This phenomenon was most clearly illustrated in the case of Rwanda. This is an important point because it demonstrates that more attention needs to be paid to (negative) unintended effects of the EU and other external actors’ good governance policies.
By modifying its strategy, the EU can increase the incentives and disincentives for African governments to engage. However, the EU has not always been strategic in adjusting its good governance policies to the local dynamics and the domestic political game between the ruler and opponents. Analysing the EU’s good governance policies together with the survival strategies of African authoritarian regimes suggests that the EU often has not used the most appropriate strategy to support reforms. The EU at times exerts pressure and promotes a broad understanding of good governance when African governments have very little leeway to engage with the EU (for example, in the case of Ethiopia in the years following the 2005 election crisis). More importantly, the EU at times fails to use windows of opportunity to promote reforms when African governments have enough room to manoeuvre and engage with the EU (for example, in the case of Rwanda after 2005 when the government faced very little domestic political opposition). The EU, thereby, not only misses an opportunity to support the basic conditions that may contribute to democratic change in the medium- to longer-term perspective, but it also risks endorsing the regime in place.
The survival strategies have considerable explanatory power in accounting for differences across the three countries. However, they do not fully explain the variation in the three governments’ openness for engaging with the EU on governance reforms. The interaction of the EU’s strategies and African governments’ survival strategies elucidates why Ethiopia is less willing to engage with the EU than Rwanda. Yet, by focussing merely on these two factors, one would expect that Ethiopia would not engage at all with the EU on governance reforms after 2005, given the high risks of cooperation. Focussing on the survival strategies also cannot explain why Rwanda only reluctantly cooperated in the early 2000s, but then shifted its strategy towards proactive engagement after 2005. Moreover, it does not explain why Angola reluctantly engaged with the EU in the early 2000s, despite the low benefits and high costs that cooperation entailed at that time.
6.3 Economic Dependence: Less Important Than Thought
African governments take their decisions whether to engage in governance reforms first of all by assessing the costs and benefits that this cooperation entails in light of their survival strategies. The incentives of cooperating with the EU on governance reforms are then further mitigated by African governments’ broader interests in cooperating with the EU. The cases analysed here demonstrate that African countries’ economic dependence on the EU can tip the scale; it can increase or reduce the incentives for African governments to engage with the EU. However, economic dependence is not an alternative explanation to African governments’ survival strategies. The empirics in this book do not suggest that African countries’ dependence on the EU is irrelevant. Yet, the relevance of that dependence hinges on African governments’ survival strategies.
In the early 2000s, Ethiopia and Rwanda were both quite dependent on the EU, whereas Angola’s dependence was relatively low (Fig. 6.2). Rwanda was slightly more dependent on the EU than Ethiopia. Aid as a share of GNI peaked at almost 20 per cent in Ethiopia in 2003, and at almost 25 per cent in Rwanda in 2004. The Ethiopian and Rwandan governments both actively embraced the emerging international aid effectiveness agenda to maximise access to international development aid flows. Furthermore, the EU was among their largest trading partners and an important source of direct investments for Ethiopia as well as Rwanda at that time. Yet, for both governments trade (and investments) still generated fewer revenues than aid. Moreover, as the EU has largely operationalised its good governance instruments in the area of aid, it has limited leverage to use dependence on trade and investments to set direct incentives for cooperating on governance reforms.
In the early 2000s, Rwanda’s dependence on the EU thus set incentives for the government to reluctantly start engaging in governance reforms, even though this type of activity was risky at that time. For Ethiopia, cooperation on governance reforms was also difficult in the early 2000s, as it was for Rwanda. In this regard, Ethiopia’s slightly lower dependence on the EU compared with Rwanda explains why, in the early 2000s, Ethiopia was slightly more reluctant to engage than Rwanda was.
For Angola, economic cooperation with the EU in the early 2000s provided some benefits and at least partly balanced out costs that cooperation on governance reforms entailed. Unlike Ethiopia and Rwanda, Angola was clearly not dependent on aid at that time. However, even though aid as a share of GNI was quite low (only 4 per cent), the government reached out to the EU (and other Western donors) for support. After the end of the civil war, it urgently needed financial assistance for the reconstruction process. Angola turned to the EU, when the IMF and other Western actors were not willing to extend support.Footnote 1 Moreover, in the early 2000s, the EU still had a comparatively large stake in trade with Angola; oil exports to the EU came second after the USA. This moderate dependence on the EU explains why the Angolan government started to at least reluctantly engage in the implementation of governance instruments in the early 2000s.
Since the mid-2000s, Rwanda has remained strongly dependent on the EU. The EU kept its position as a key donor to Rwanda. The modalities by which the EU provided aid (budget support) and the sectors to which it directed aid (social services and infrastructure) have matched the Rwandan government’s preferences. The EU also continued to be the most important destination for Rwandan exports (until 2012) and source of direct investments. In light of the shift in EU good governance strategies towards a rewarding strategy and the low costs stemming from cooperation on governance reforms between 2006 and 2014, high dependence on the EU can thus explain why the government not only actively but proactively engaged with the EU. Only with the EU and other donors’ usage of negative conditionality and their shift from budget support to sector budget support in the summer of 2012, have Rwanda’s interests in engaging with the EU begun decreasing.
Ethiopia’s dependence on the EU slightly increased in the mid-2000s. After the 2005 elections, output legitimacy became even more important to regime stability. The EU and other donors’ support for social services and infrastructure development therefore became even more relevant for the Ethiopian government after 2005. Moreover, the EU remained an important destination for Ethiopia’s exports, which slightly increased after 2005. In light of the high risks that cooperation on governance reforms entailed after the 2005 elections, Ethiopia’s high level of EU dependence explains why the government did not ignore EU demands for cooperation on governance reforms, but at least reluctantly engaged.
In the case of Angola, dependence on the EU further decreased since 2005. The share of aid to GNI dropped below 1 per cent. Even though the EU is one of the largest donors to Angola, development aid clearly provides no incentive that could balance out the costs that cooperation on governance reforms would entail for the Angolan government. Moreover, the EU’s relative importance as a destination for Angolan exports or as a source of loans has diminished rapidly. The EU has made some attempts to develop a more comprehensive partnership with Angola to offer incentives for cooperation beyond aid. The EU’s proposal to initiate a ‘Joint Way Forward’ was meant to open new avenues for cooperation beyond the framework of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, for instance on energy and regional peace and security. Even though it is still early to judge the outcome, the Angolan government’s strong hesitation in signing the Joint Way Forward indicates the government’s limited interest in this type of partnership.
Comparing the economic dependence of Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda on the EU suggests that aid dependence is an important factor that influences African governments’ willingness to engage with the EU. Some have argued that governments mainly cooperate on governance reforms to assure continued aid flows, but with little genuine interest in the particular reforms (Andrews 2013). This raises the question of how important the three countries’ dependence on the EU is compared with their survival strategies in explaining their willingness to engage in governance reforms.
Findings from the case of Angola appear ambiguous. The EU has narrowed its good governance approach and has become less critical towards the Angolan government. Changes in the Angolan government’s survival strategies over time have not made it more difficult to engage with the EU. At the same time, the government’s dependence on the EU decreased further. It is thus difficult to draw conclusions from the case of Angola regarding the relative importance of the government’s survival strategies compared with the government’s dependence on the EU.
The examples of Ethiopia and Rwanda , however, show compellingly that African countries’ dependence on the EU cannot fully explain their strategies, but needs to be considered in conjunction with and against the background of their own survival strategies. Ethiopia has become more dependent on the EU over time, but the government continued to only reluctantly engage with the EU on governance reforms between 2006 and 2014. If the government’s aid dependence had been the main factor in explaining its willingness to engage, one would have expected the Ethiopian government to become more open to cooperation over time. Rwanda’s level of dependence on EU aid, on the other hand, remained similar between the early 2000s and 2014. However, the Rwandan government still decided to proactively engage with the EU after 2006. If Rwanda’s willingness to engage had been primarily driven by its dependence on the EU, one would have expected Rwanda’s openness to cooperation to remain similar over time.
We can draw three main conclusions from this part of the analysis. First, in cases of strong aid dependency, the EU can use aid as an incentive to compensate for some of the costs that cooperating on governance reforms involves. This was observed most clearly in Ethiopia between 2005 and 2010. Even though cooperation on governance reforms was risky for the Ethiopian government, it engaged with the EU—at least reluctantly. The importance of the EU as a donor to Ethiopia, the EU’s aid modalities and the choice of sectors to which it has targeted its aid arguably have made the EU’s overall cooperation package attractive enough for the Ethiopian government to hesitantly accept cooperation on governance reforms. Even if Ethiopia only ‘reluctantly’ engaged, this can be viewed as a success given the substantial challenges that cooperation on governance reforms entailed for the Ethiopian government in the post-2005 election period.
Second, the EU’s good governance policies face strong limitations in countries where cooperation on governance reforms is costly for the target government and where aid dependence is low. This is most obvious in the case of Angola. The EU is basically left with no financial incentives to convince the government to address governance issues. Moreover, it has little means to set (material) incentives ‘beyond’ development aid to convince the Angolan government to engage on governance reforms.
Third, African countries’ dependence on the EU is a factor that can ‘tip the balance’ and set additional incentives for cooperation. However, African countries’ dependence on the EU is not an alternative explanation to account for African governments’ willingness to cooperate on governance reforms. Instead, it needs to be analysed in conjunction with African governments’ survival strategies and the EU’s good governance strategies to account for different levels of responsiveness.
6.4 Does China Matter? Yes, But Less Than Expected
Finally, the analysis of China’s engagement with Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda confounds the widely held belief in policy and academic debates that China made it more difficult for the EU to support governance reforms in Africa between 2000 and 2014. Even though China has emerged as an alternative partner in Ethiopia and to some extent Angola, this has had limited effects on the Ethiopian and Angolan governments’ willingness to engage with the EU on governance reforms.
Comparing Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda reveals that African governments’ access to cooperation with China has varied substantially between 2000 and 2014, not only over time but also across the three countries. Depending on China’s economic and political interests in engaging with African countries, the opportunities presented to African governments differ considerably. The following sub-section will examine to what extent China’s economic cooperation with African countries has reduced African governments’ dependence on the EU and to what extent China engages with African countries on their survival strategies. It will then delve into the question of whether China’s engagement in Africa has affected African governments’ willingness to cooperate with the EU on governance reforms.
6.4.1 China: Reducing African Countries’ Economic Dependence on the EU in Some Cases
In the early 2000s, when the EU started to put governance reforms more prominently onto the agenda in its relations with African governments, African countries had little access to economic cooperation with China. Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda were no exception in this regard. For all three countries, levels of bilateral trade with China, access to Chinese development aid and other official flows, as well as direct investments from China were quite low at the turn of the millennium. However, China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Chinese government’s launch of the ‘going out’ policy and its growing needs for energy resources created a number of (mostly economic) incentives for China to strengthen its engagement with African countries.
Since the mid-2000s, China’s economic relations with Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda have intensified substantially. For all three countries, a specific point in time can be identified when relations started to become more important. In the case of Angola, that was in 2004 when China and Angola signed the first oil-for-infrastructure deal , and for Ethiopia it was in early 2006 with the first master loan facility; and shortly after the Ethiopian government’s dispute with the EU and other international actors. China–Rwanda relations deepened with the third meeting of the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation that took place in Beijing in October 2006. However, due to China’s specific economic and political interests in engaging with the three countries, the countries’ access to aid, official flows, trade and investments from China have differed considerably since the mid-2000s.
In the case of Angola, China has rapidly become a major economic cooperation partner, further reducing the country’s vulnerability to EU pressure. After 2004, China quickly emerged as Angola’s second-largest trading partner; in 2007, China overtook the USA as the largest destination for Angolan oil exports. China has become by far the largest source of official flows to Angola. Angola has become the most important recipient of Chinese loans in Africa. Chinese loans not only allowed the Angolan government to fund its ambitious infrastructure reconstruction programme but also to deliver the infrastructure in time for the parliamentary elections in 2008 and in 2012, respectively.
The example of Angola, therefore, illustrates the pivotal role of resource interests as a driving force for closer economic cooperation between China and African countries. Angola has emerged as the second-largest (at times largest) source of Chinese oil imports, also indicating the importance of Angola to China. China’s relations with Angola (not unlike the EU’s relations with Angola) are thus clearly interdependent. However, the case of Angola also highlights that China’s engagement and interests in Africa are not limited to resource interests. From the Chinese perspective, Angola has become an important market for Chinese (mostly state-owned) construction companies. Moreover—and again not too different from the EU—Chinese officials view Angola as an important political and security actor within the wider region.
In the case of Ethiopia, China has also become a major source of official flows, an important destination for Ethiopia’s exports and a relatively important source of direct investments. China has become almost as important an economic partner for Ethiopia as the EU. China’s engagement with Ethiopia thus considerably reduces Ethiopia’s vulnerability to EU pressure. The EXIM Bank supports large infrastructure projects; trade with China has opened new export markets and contributed to the diversification of Ethiopia’s trade, and in doing so has generated important additional profits for the government. China has granted aid to support some high-profile government projects such as a railway, infrastructure development in Addis Ababa and a prestigious expressway.
As Ethiopia has exported few natural resources, the amount of Chinese official flows to Ethiopia seems surprising at first glance. But Ethiopia’s position on the Horn of Africa, the size of its (potential) market and its influence in African regional debates make the country an attractive partner for China. Hosting the African Union and thus representatives from all African countries, the visibility of China’s support in Addis Ababa has an immediate multiplier effect throughout the continent.Footnote 2 According to Chinese and Ethiopian officials, the Ethiopian government has been one of the driving forces behind the FOCAC meetings on the African side (Taylor 2011). Chinese officials (like their European counterparts) view Ethiopia as a pole of relative stability within the Horn of Africa.
In contrast to Angola and Ethiopia, Rwanda has relatively little access to economic cooperation with China. China’s economic cooperation with Rwanda is small compared with its trade, official flows and investments in and with Angola and (to a lesser extent) Ethiopia. More importantly, from the perspective of the Rwandan government, China has not (yet) emerged as an economic cooperation partner that is as important as the EU or Rwanda’s other traditional partners. China’s development aid to Rwanda has increased since 2006. However, China remains a relatively small to medium-sized donor when compared with the EU and other OECD DAC donors. Unlike Ethiopia and Angola, Chinese policy banks do not (yet) provide commercial or preferential loans for infrastructure development to Rwanda. In 2011, China overtook the EU as the most important destination for Rwandan exports, but Rwanda still mostly exports its traditional commodities to China and has not (yet) been able to use cooperation with China to diversify its exports (unlike Ethiopia). Even though China gave some assistance to Rwanda in 2012 during a period when the EU and other donors used budget-support funds to exert pressure on the Rwandan government, China’s support only slightly reduced Rwanda’s vulnerability to EU pressure.
What explains the stark difference in China’s engagement with Rwanda and Ethiopia, since both have little access to natural resources? China has fewer economic (and political) interests in engaging with Rwanda than it does with Ethiopia. As a landlocked country with a very densely crowded, but relatively small population, large Chinese state-owned companies have less incentive to invest in Rwanda. Even though regional economic integration has improved in recent years, cross-border trade remains costly, and Rwanda thus has difficulty positioning itself as a hub of the region. However, despite limited economic interests that China has in Rwanda, it is a medium-sized recipient of Chinese aid and receives more aid than what would be expected given the size of the country and its volumes of bilateral trade. This relative importance as an aid recipient can probably be explained by Rwanda’s political weight in Africa and President Kagame’s strong voice in international debates. Moreover, the Rwandan government is perceived to be quite active in reaching out to China to make sure that all the available aid funds are used.
To sum up, between 2005 and 2014, China’s economic engagement with the three countries considerably reduced Ethiopia’s and Angola’s vulnerability to EU pressure. China has emerged as a major economic partner for Rwanda but has not (yet) become as important as the EU.
6.4.2 China as an Alternative Partner for Engaging with African Governments on Their Survival Strategies
In addition to reducing African governments’ dependence on the EU, China may also provide alternative support for African governments’ survival strategies. In the three countries analysed here, China’s assistance for African governments’ survival strategies differs considerably. Only in the case of Ethiopia are party-to-party relations very close, and China has supported government measures to strengthen the effectiveness of state institutions and the usage of low-intensity coercion. China’s engagement with Angola and Rwanda, instead, is limited to economic cooperation.
184.108.40.206 Party-to-Party Relations
In contrast with the EU’s Africa policy, party-to-party contacts constitute an important pillar of Sino-African relations.Footnote 3 Zhong Weiyun (2012), vice-director of the Africa Bureau of the International Department of the Central Committee of the CCP, explains the interest of the CCP and African ruling parties in bilateral relations:
African political parties, especially those ruling parties, hope to learn the experience of the CPC in party building and country construction. Many parties explicitly say that they want the CPC to train their senior leaders. The CPC has also carried out research into the experiences of African ruling parties that have a long history in order to improve its own party building in the new era. […] [African ruling parties] take part in workshops of different types and topics, including party building, economic development, poverty reduction, young people and women. The CPC also sends experts to some African countries on their request to brief them about China and the experience of the CPC.
Information on the relations between the CCP and ruling parties in individual African countries is generally difficult to obtain. Findings from a press review and interviews with Chinese and African officials suggest that the CCP has emerged as a prominent cooperation partner only in the case of the EPRDF. In the case of the Angolan MPLA, party-to-party contacts have remained very limited. For the RPF, exchange is more intense than with the MPLA, but more limited than with the EPRDF.
Contacts between the EPRDF and the CCP also appear to be quite close if analysed within the broader regional context. If measured in terms of the number of bilateral visits, the EPRDF is among the five most important African cooperation partners for the CCP (Fig. 6.3). The CCP has similarly frequent exchanges only with the ruling parties in South Africa, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Namibia. For the CCP, the intensity of party-to-party links with Rwanda figures in the medium range. Party-to-party links with Angola figure at the lowest end of CCP contacts with any African party.
What explains these differences? Several tentative explanations may account for the variance that should be further tested and nuanced in future research. First, a cursory cross-country review suggests that historic relations and similar ideology play an important role. The CCP has the closest relations with some of those parties that it already supported during their liberation struggle, such as ruling parties in Zimbabwe and Namibia. In this regard, history also seems to play a role in the limited contacts between the MPLA and the CCP, as China supported the rival party UNITA during the civil war. Second, party-to-party contacts are closer in cases where African ruling parties have a strong interest in strengthening party institutions. For instance, as the EPRDF has been much more active than the MPLA in investing in inner-party reforms and expanding its status as a ruling party, it seems to have a stronger genuine interest in party-to-party exchanges with the CCP. On the other hand, limited contacts between the CCP and the MPLA (or the ruling party in Nigeria) seem to be an indication that economic interests are not a prominent factor to explain close party-to-party links. The CCP maintains relations with parties in almost all countries, including relatively small ones like Benin, Burundi, Lesotho and Sierra Leone, where China has limited economic interests (Fig. 6.3).
220.127.116.11 Other Forms of Support for African Governments’ Survival Strategies
In addition to engaging with the ruling party, the Chinese government could also support the effectiveness of government institutions or assist African governments’ strategies of using coercion and managing arenas of contestation. Comparing Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda illustrates that only in the case of Ethiopia has a close cooperation between ruling parties emerged and some technical support for the capacities of government institutions been provided. China’s engagement with African countries thus varies widely, not only in terms of economic engagement but also with regard to how China engages with African governments on their survival strategies.
In Ethiopia, China has supported the government’s measures to strengthen state institutions and its usage of low-intensity coercion (Chap. 4). Information from interviews with Ethiopian and Chinese officials and a press review suggest that Ethiopia received technical assistance for its state media and some (albeit limited) support for justice sector reform.Footnote 4 Ethiopia has also sent considerably greater numbers of government officials to China for training than Rwanda or Angola.
In Angola, China has apparently given very little technical assistance to support the capacities of state institutions. Interviews, a press review and available secondary literature on China–Angola relations do not give any indication that, in addition to financing and constructing large infrastructure projects, China has provided substantial technical support to strengthen the administrative or human capacities of government institutions. Growing economic interdependencies between Angola and China have sparked public protests in Angola against the high number of Chinese workers and companies, and Chinese businessmen have been attacked. In order to address these negative side-effects of growing interdependencies, some exchange in the area of human rights and justice reform has taken place (Chap. 5).
Finally, in the case of Rwanda, China has provided even less technical assistance to support the human or administrative capacities of government institutions than in Angola (Chap. 3).
6.4.3 China: What Effects does it have on Cooperating with the EU on Governance Reforms?
Analysing China’s engagement with Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda in light of the EU’s demands to cooperate on governance reforms, the three governments’ survival strategies and their dependence on the EU suggest that China’s engagement has limited effects on African governments’ willingness to cooperate with the EU on governance reforms. Table 6.2 summarises the main findings from the analysis on China’s cooperation with the three countries.
Since the mid-2000s when China became a more important cooperation partner, the EU’s good governance strategies have largely converged with the Rwandan government’s preferences. One would thus expect any effect China has on the Rwandan government’s willingness to engage with the EU on governance reforms to be limited. Moreover, for Rwanda, China has become neither a substantial alternative partner for economic cooperation, nor a partner for cooperating on the government’s survival strategies. China only very recently has emerged as a more important economic cooperation partner. Even though China started to cooperate more closely in 2012, at a point in time when the EU put considerably more pressure on Rwanda, official flows provided by China did not significantly reduce Rwanda’s dependence on the EU. The effect of China’s engagement in the Rwandan government’s decision to engage with the EU on governance reforms has therefore been weak.
Assessing the impact of China’s engagement with Angola on the Angolan government’s willingness to cooperate with the EU on governance reforms is more challenging. Cooperating with the EU on governance reforms mainly incurred costs for the Angolan government. Moreover, for Angola, China has clearly emerged as an alternative cooperation partner, particularly in terms of economic cooperation. However, even in the absence of China as an alternative cooperation partner, the Angolan government’s dependence on the EU would have been limited. The Angolan government might not have been completely indifferent towards the EU’s demands to engage on governance reforms after 2005, but it is unlikely that in the absence of China it would have been much more forthcoming in cooperating with the EU.
18.104.22.168 Ethiopia: A ‘Crucial Case’?
Of the three countries, Ethiopia represents a ‘crucial case’ (Gerring 2007, 231). If the arguments set up in the theoretical framework hold, then Ethiopia is a case where we would expect China’s engagement to have affected the government’s willingness to cooperate with the EU on governance reforms (Table 6.2). In the case of Ethiopia, all facts central to the confirmation of the argument that China negatively affects EU good governance support seem to be present. Not only is Ethiopia an example where China has become an alternative cooperation partner, but it is also a case where, since the mid-2000s, cooperating with the EU was very difficult for the government. The Ethiopian regime was facing significant challenges from the opposition during the 2005 election crisis, making cooperation an endeavour with potentially disruptive effects for regime survival. Between 2006 and 2010, the EU broadened its good governance approach towards democratic governance and used a cooperative-critical strategy, making it riskier for the government to engage. At the same time, Ethiopia was largely dependent on EU aid and (to a lesser extent) on trade and investments.
In this specific context, one would expect that Ethiopia would refuse to cooperate with the EU on governance reforms, when China emerged as an alternative cooperation partner. However, Ethiopia has continued to at least reluctantly engage with the EU. The Ethiopian case thereby challenges the argument that China’s engagement with African countries has substantially influenced African governments’ willingness to cooperate with the EU on governance reforms. It suggests that access to cooperation with China has had limited effects on African governments’ willingness to engage on governance reforms.
We can thus gain several insights regarding the relevance of China. First, the case studies indicate that in some countries China has indeed already become an alternative cooperation partner for African governments, not only in terms of economic cooperation, but also as a partner to cooperate on African governments’ survival strategies. For Ethiopia, economic cooperation with China is as important as its cooperation with the EU; for Angola, China is even more important as an economic cooperation partner in terms of official flows, trade and investments; for Rwanda, China has only very recently become a considerable alternative partner. Only in the case of Ethiopia has China offered the government support for its survival strategies and closely engaged with the ruling party.
In addition, the analysis strongly suggests that between 2000 and 2014 China’s cooperation with African countries did not negatively affect the EU’s good governance strategies. The study thus refutes assumptions widely held in policy and public debates that the rise of China has made it more difficult for the EU to make African governments address governance issues. If measured in terms of African governments’ openness for cooperating on governance reforms, the emergence of China has so far had little effect. Ethiopia in particular is a crucial case where one would expect that the government’s strategy towards the EU would have changed when China became an alternative partner. However, this proposition could not be confirmed empirically. Instead, economic engagement with China is part of a broader set of domestic and international factors that impact on the preferences of African governments.
Finally, this finding ultimately implies that the EU’s strategy to support governance reforms through a cooperative approach, in which the EU seeks to establish active cooperation with African governments on governance reforms, has made the EU’s strategies less sensitive or vulnerable to the influence of China. The EU managed to establish at least some cooperation with governments in African dominant party regimes, where the EU’s strategies converged with the preferences of the government (Rwanda post-2005), or where the EU’s strategies diverged from the preferences of the government, but where the EU could set financial incentives for cooperation (Ethiopia post-2005). At the same time, we have seen that the EU is often not very strategic in adapting its good governance policies to the country context. In particular, the EU has not used windows of opportunity to promote reforms when African governments have faced little domestic pressure from opponents and have some leeway to engage (Rwanda post-2005). Instead of worrying about China, the EU should tap into the full potential of its own strategies.
6.5 Some Avenues for Future Work
Results from this analysis open several avenues for future work. Some relate to the debate on authoritarianism and the effectiveness of good governance support in authoritarian regimes. Others relate more specifically to the interaction between China’s rise and (the EU’s) good governance support.
A first issue for further investigation refers to the domestic politics of authoritarian regimes. While dominant party systems are the most prominent type of authoritarian regime today (Hadenius and Teorell 2007; Magaloni and Kricheli 2010), they do not constitute a homogeneous group. The survival strategies of governments in dominant party systems differ widely, as we have seen for the cases of Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Governments may choose to invest in building effective states or to expand party structures, they may use coercion to open or close political spaces, and they need to manage arenas of contestation. Moreover, the willingness of governments to engage with external actors in governance reforms varies considerably. Given this great variety within the group of party-based regimes, future research should invest in developing a new typology of authoritarian, dominant party systems, focussing on the role of the ruling party, the level of institutionalisation of the ruling party and its relation to the state and society. This typology would allow for better understanding the variety of dominant party regimes and explaining differences in their economic and social performance, conditions under which these regimes may or may not democratise, and differences in the external influence of the EU, China and others.
A second issue for future work relates to the domestic political game between the ruler and political opponents from inside or outside the ruling coalition. This domestic game appears to be a crucial factor in the domestic politics of authoritarian regimes as well as their external relations. The domestic dynamic between the government and political opponents not only influences authoritarian governments’ survival strategies but also shapes governments’ interests in engaging with the EU, China or other external actors. This domestic political dynamic is not only relevant with regard to the willingness of African governments to engage on governance reforms. It also matters for the EU and China’s engagement with authoritarian regimes in other policy fields. Experts on authoritarianism seek to understand the performance of authoritarian regimes regarding ecological sustainability (Wurster 2013; Pridham 1991), trade openness (Hankla and Kuthy 2011), the risk of civil conflict (Fjelde 2010) and the protection of foreign investments (Gehlbach and Keefer 2011). While they take the variety of authoritarianism as a starting point, they rarely investigate and compare the domestic incentives that are specific to authoritarian, dominant party systems. Findings of this book on the similarities and differences of dominant party systems and the domestic interaction between the ruler and opponents are thus also relevant beyond research on the effectiveness of (the EU’s) good governance support in authoritarian regimes.
Another point for exploration refers to the tendency in the literature on EU good governance strategies to focus on exceptional situations where authoritarian regimes use high-intensity coercion as a measure of last resort to secure regime survival and where the EU and other donors use sanctions (Portela 2010; Del Biondo 2015; von Soest and Wahman 2015) or budget-support suspensions (Faust et al. 2012; Molenaers et al. 2015) to respond to imminent political crises. Consider situations like the 2005 election crisis in Ethiopia. Analysing this crisis through the lens of the domestic logic of political survival corroborates arguments that expectations on what external actors can achieve in these exceptional situations must be modest. However, this book has also pointed out that governments in dominant party systems usually rely on low-intensity coercion to gradually open or close political spaces. Future research should therefore pay more attention to periods of relative domestic political stability, when authoritarian governments rely on low-intensity coercion. In such situations, donors may have considerably more leeway to decide which strategy to use, as they face little pressure from public opinion and their own domestic constituencies to revert to sanctions or budget support suspensions. We have seen that during periods when governments in dominant party regimes face little pressure from domestic opponents, they are more likely to accept governance aid, engage in dialogue and allow civil society, the media or opposition parties more freedom, which may contribute to democratic reforms in the medium- to long-term.
Finally, in addition to focusing more on periods of relative domestic political stability, the specific role of the ruling party and its external relations requires further investigation. It is widely acknowledged that political parties have important influence on regime durability, political reform and economic prosperity (Smith 2005; Magaloni 2006; Brownlee 2007; Gehlbach and Keefer 2011; Bueno de Mesquita et al. 2003). Empirics in this book have exemplified the different functions ruling parties can play in authoritarian dominant party systems, and how party structures may fuse with state institutions and maintain close linkages with the business sector. Yet, literature on authoritarianism, on external party support as part of Western democracy promotion, or on China–Africa relations, has so far largely neglected the international relations of authoritarian parties as well as the CCP’s relations to other parties. The CCP’s engagement with African political parties can be quite close (as documented here for the case of Ethiopia). A cursory review on the CCP’s contacts with parties across sub-Saharan African countries has indicated that there is great variance with regard to the intensity of party-to-party relations. The factors influencing party-to-party cooperation, the effects of party-to-party engagement and the interaction effects of the CCP’s and European engagement with African parties (for example through some EU member states’ political foundations) would thus be relevant for future work.
6.6 Policy Implications: Facing a Fork in the Road?
The basic parameters that have shaped African government’s responsiveness towards the EU since the late 1990s are currently undergoing fundamental changes, suggesting that the EU’s good governance strategies are now at a crossroad. Support for governance reforms is still on the EU’s agenda. Yet, the security and migration agenda increasingly dominates EU external relations. There is a growing uncertainty among European policy-makers whether supporting governance reforms is the right thing to do. Moreover, domestic challenges in Europe, such as growing populism and illiberal domestic reforms in some EU member states, the Brexit or the EU’s response to the refugee and migration crisis, question the EU’s credibility and legitimacy to support reforms elsewhere. Even though the EU gradually strengthened good governance support between 2000 and 2014, there is no guarantee that this trend will continue in the future. Three developments suggest that the EU will face more challenges to implementing its agenda in the coming years: changes in the field of international development policy, the stabilisation of (dominant party) authoritarian contexts and China’s evolving African policy.
First, the field of development policy, which has substantially influenced the EU’s good governance policies in Africa, is undergoing significant changes (Klingebiel and Ashoff 2014). The international aid effectiveness agenda has passed its peak (Chandy and Kharas 2011; Mawdsley et al. 2014) and the ‘decade of generosity’, during which aid budgets successively grew, seems to have come to an end. Instead, with the increases in refugee and migration flows, aid budgets have come under pressure to support short-term measures to prevent refugees and migrants from moving to Europe and to cover the refugee costs in Europe rather than to promote long-term sustainable development.
These changes in the area of development policy have important direct implications for the EU’s policies to support governance reforms in African countries. Shifts in aid modalities (for instance the decline in direct budget support) and changes in donor-government aid dialogues at country level as a consequence of the unravelling international aid effectiveness agenda make it more difficult for the EU to use these fora to bring governance reforms onto the agenda of its relations with African governments. Moreover, setting material incentives for African governments to cooperate on governance reforms becomes more challenging, if aid is concentrated on countries where migrants originate or transit, and if aid is used for short-term crisis prevention and migration management. If the EU gives priority to using aid funds to leverage cooperation on migration management, it cannot credibly leverage for cooperation on governance reforms at the same time.
Second, the question of how to find the most appropriate strategy to engage with dominant party regimes will remain a key challenge for the EU in the near future. One-third of all countries in the world are authoritarian dominant party systems (Magaloni and Kricheli 2010, 125). The façade of nominally democratic institutions is making it quite difficult for the EU (and for other actors) to find an appropriate approach to supporting governance reforms. The same type of intervention (for instance, support for elections or the judicial system) may diverge from the preferences of the government under some circumstances, while it may match them in others. The analysis presented here gives reasons for policy-makers to pay more attention to the incentives of authoritarian governments to set up formal democratic institutions to enhance their position in power rather than to view these institutions as natural stepping stones towards a more democratic system.
The EU needs to design its good governance strategies in such a way that incentives are set for African governments to engage with the EU. Otherwise, if governments do not engage at all, the EU cannot make any impact. The problem is, if the EU’s good governance strategies fully converge with the preferences of the government and the EU does not use windows of opportunity to press for greater political openness, it risks endorsing the regime rather than encouraging reform. Thus, finding the right balance between aligning with the preferences of African governments and pressuring for governance reforms is a delicate issue.
Third, China is likely to become more rather than less relevant as a cooperation partner for African governments. China’s ‘footprint’ in Africa will increase further. Over the past few years, China has been as important an economic cooperation partner as the EU only in a few African countries (such as Angola and Ethiopia). However, the example of Rwanda shows that China is likely to become more relevant for those African countries that have few natural resources and a limited (geo-)strategic and political importance. In conjunction with shifting priorities and strategies in the field of development policy due to the rise of the migration agenda, the EU will also face more difficulties in remaining an attractive partner in these countries and thus a partner who can credibly ask African governments to engage in governance reforms.
The more China invests in Africa and the more economic relations intensify, the more one can expect that the Chinese government will have an interest in government stability, regime stability and effective policy-making processes. While China has continued to lend rhetorical support for its non-interference policy, its implementation has become more differentiated in response to the specific context in African countries (Verhoeven 2014; Aidoo and Hess 2015). This has also been visible in the cases analysed here. Even if China does not develop similar instruments as the EU to support the effectiveness of government institutions, there might be more convergence in the EU and China’s preferences at least for stable and effective institutions.
At the same time, divergences in the EU and China’s strategies will remain with regard to supporting the inclusiveness and democratic quality of decision-making processes. We have seen that China’s rise in Africa did not undermine the EU’s efforts to engage with African governments on governance reforms between 2000 and 2014. China’s presence is one of the several factors that impact African governments’ preferences and incentive structures to introduce political reforms and to engage with the EU in such reforms. More relevant than China’s presence is whether the EU itself is tapping the full potential of its strategies. With a cooperative approach that aims at establishing an active engagement with African governments in governance reforms, the EU is potentially well-situated to support reforms even in light of the rise of China. However, the EU should be more strategic in exploring opportunities for supporting political reforms.
6.6.1 Which Way Forward?
Academic research and findings from this book give evidence that EU’s good governance support can work, if it is not overly ambitious, well-targeted to the local context and consistently applied. However, conclusions from the analysis presented here point to the need for the EU to take the domestic power game in African countries more strongly into account and to further adapt its strategies to local political dynamics. In other words, one size clearly does not fit all. Such a clear differentiation would need to happen at several levels.
The EU needs to strengthen and further develop instruments to support governance reforms ‘beyond’ the field of development policy. Other policy fields such as trade, energy, fisheries or climate policy increase in importance, opening additional areas to set incentives for and to engage in governance reforms. The case of Angola has been a particularly revealing example of the limited reach of the EU’s bilateral aid instruments in supporting governance reforms. In light of the close integration of the Angolan elite in international financial markets and the tremendous flight of capital, EU support for draining tax havens, for instance, can have a direct effect on domestic political reforms and would thus need to be considered as part of the EU’s policy for supporting governance reforms in certain countries.
In addition, the EU needs to more strongly differentiate its strategies for engaging with different regime types. The EU should not only distinguish between democratic and authoritarian but also distinguish between different types of authoritarian regimes, and notably between different dominant party systems. The EU can adapt its strategies when engaging with different countries, as this study has shown. Yet, ultimately, the EU still draws from the same toolbox when engaging with African countries regardless of their regime type. In light of the growing diversification of domestic contexts and political realities in African countries, the EU will need to make more efforts to diversify this ‘toolbox’.
The changes within the EU and in EU development policy, the consolidation of dominant party regimes and the rise of China produce considerable adaptation pressure for EU good governance strategies. However, unlike events such as the Arab Spring or the crisis in the Ukraine, this adaptation pressure rises gradually rather than imminently, making incremental rather than fundamental changes to the EU’s policies a likely scenario.
Angola’s rate of oil production and international oil prices were still relatively low at that time.
China’s decision to grant the new African Union headquarters is probably the most visible sign in this regard.
According to Zhong Weiyun (2012), the CCP started to establish relations with African communist parties and national liberation movements in the 1950s. In the 1970s, the CCP expanded its cooperation to non-communist African parties. Zhong argues that the political openings in Africa in the early 1990s had a negative impact for the CCP’s relations with African ruling parties because some parties were swept away and the new incumbents had little knowledge and sometimes little interest in closer party-to-party links. With the turn of the century and China’s growing economic cooperation with African countries, party relations again gained prominence. Zhong’s article ‘Inter-Party relations promote Sino-African Strategic Partnership’ is published online at http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2012-08/28/content_26353120_3.htm, last accessed 5 October 2013.
China provided technical assistance for the Ethiopian News Agency, the Ministry of Information and the state-owned radio station. These actors receive very little to no support from the EU or other Western donors (see Chap. 4).
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Hackenesch, C. (2018). Conclusions. In: The EU and China in African Authoritarian Regimes. Governance and Limited Statehood. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-63591-0_6
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