International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 305

Full Length Research Paper

On how power is produced: The case of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the Angolan electoral process of 2008

Catarina Antunes Gomes
  • Catarina Antunes Gomes
  • Centre of Social Studies, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra, Portugal.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 02 April 2010
  •  Accepted: 14 March 2014
  •  Published: 31 May 2014


Inspired by Luhmann’s concept of autopoiesis, this article will critically assess Angola’s process of political transition towards democracy by focusing on 2008 legislative elections. It aims to demonstrate that the development of the Angolan electoral process revealed the strategies by which the political hegemony of the MPLA constructed the necessary pre-conditions in order to secure its viability,  that is, its ‘conservative adaptation’. A significant part of power (re)production strategies employed the formal mechanisms made available by the resources of the democratic framework. These mechanisms were featured mainly in state institutions and symbolic and discursive practises. At the level of the legal state institutions, one finds an exorbitant and frequently opportunistic legislative production characterized by numerous contradictions. This juridical production allowed the crystallization and effectiveness of the power system decisions even, or better yet, especially when there was a strong disagreement. The case of the National Electoral Commission (NEC) is in this regard, particularly instructive. On the level of the discursive and symbolic practises, the references to the legal state, state institutionalization and institutional normalization were subjected to rival interpretations by different political actors. In moments where tensions were greater, this radicalisation led to a moralisation of the discourse, turning the political debate into a moral classification of its participants. Therefore these references operated as self-legitimization semantics which, in the face of divergence, can be characterized by a certain moralization of the political discourse.  

Key words: National Electoral Commission, legislative elections, Angolan political transition.