Elections in Tanzania are coming up this October, and from what I can see, this is going to be a fun one. To paint a picture: one ruling party has won every presidential election and maintained outright majority in the National Assembly since Tanzania returned to a multiparty democracy 1992, and has been in power before that since Tanzania’s independence. ┬áThis party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi, is about to face its toughest election yet. It now leads with significantly reduced margins, and ahead of this election, Tanzania’s opposition parties have signed a unity deal. Thus, this is about to be one of Tanzania’s most contested elections.

To stir the pot even more, a draft for a new constitution was completed in June 2013. It was supposed to be complete before this election, and was full of promise to take strides on a number of issues in Tanzania. This includes many women’s issues like a new quota for women in parliament, women’s land and property rights, and language specifically preventing gender based violence. Unfortunately, the constitution still has not be completed, and people cannot understand why.

Every time I ask a Tanzanian about the General Elections, I get a weary shake of the head. Young people are ready to see CCM go, and everyone is apprehensive about the outcome. It is expected that this election season will involve more protests and perhaps even violence. However, this is a good election for students of political science to be studying how mobile phones impact political engagement for women! I would argue that the conditions are just right to engage a voter, especially a female voter. Best of all is that CCM has just narrowed down their presidential candidates to three, and two of them are women.

My fellow researchers and I have been following this election closely and developing survey questions and a memo to prepare for this research on political engagement. This is one of the outcomes I am most excited about measuring in our experiment. And I am lucky to be able to witness the pre-election period from right here in Tanzania!



  1. Rachel Reeb says:

    What a fascinating place to be in right now! The story of your summer in Tanzania and the stories of the women in this study has really opened my eyes to diversity of gender equality issues across the world. It is surprising to hear that female property rights are still a topic of debate in Tanzania, yet exciting to hear of two female candidates running for election. I would be very interested to know if mobile phones encourage engagement, as well as political education. Are voters better able to find and connect with political issues that are important to them? How might this impact their voting decisions?