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Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

Chapter Five 1999 Post-Elections Period - Leicester Research ...

205 Government Frame,

205 Government Frame, Mutharika‟s crafting of his economic agenda for the nation was quite influential. 6.4.3.1 The Effects of News Values on the Electoral Processes Frame The Electoral Frame in the newspapers corpus arises out of the continuing coverage of the elections. It was natural for the press to make transition from covering the election campaign to covering the conduct of the elections following the generally unsatisfactory manner in which the elections had been managed. It makes sense that the press continued with its analysis of the elections outcome. In this respect, the emergence of the Electoral Process Frame was greatly dependent on the news value of continuity. Unfortunately, the Electoral Process Frame found even more momentum in the controversial nature of the outcome and even more so in the controversial management of the election by the MEC. In the end, the post-mortem took longer than it should have taken had the election been well management. In this respect, the Electoral Process Frame‟s emergence was supported by two more news values – negativity and conflict. As Galtung and Ruge (1965) argued bad news is more newsworthy than good news and the drama of conflict has the same effect. With respect to conflict and negativity, the resulting legal wrangling regarding the legitimacy of Mutharika‟s presidency and the brief riots (resulting in loss of life including that of an 11 years old girl) following the announcement ensured that the management of the electoral process remained firmly in the press‟s sights. 6.4.3.2 Defining Election Mandates and its Effect on the Failed Government Frame

206 Political actors recognize that the explanations offered for the outcome have an important impact on the victorious party's ability to convince the public that it has received a mandate, thus allowing it to pursue its policy agenda more successfully (Gold, 1992; Hale, 1993; King & Schudson, 1995). It is unclear whether or not Mutharika deliberately set out to define his election mandate the way he did. However, his crafting of his mandate was clearly resonant with both the media and the opposition MPs. Thus, the Failed Government Frame in the National Assembly owes its emergence to Mutharika‟s resonant crafting of his government‟s agenda. As noted earlier on, the new president generated political capital for himself through this resonant crafting of his agenda. However, this skilful crafting of his agenda tended to put the previous government and his own party under a negative spotlight. For example, in presenting the challenges facing the nation, the origins of these challenges could not be traced anywhere else but to the previous government. The continued exposure of fiscal indiscipline, economic mismanagement and the perceived regionalism and nepotism in the placement of high ranking civil servants placed the previous administration led by Bakili Muluzi in bad light both in the press and the National Assembly. However, it was in the National Assembly where negative evaluations about Muluzi and his regime appeared in the Failed Government Frame. The majority of the MPs in the National Assembly were not UDF and did not owe the UDF loyalty. Further, the MCP, who had borne the brunt of UDF contempt in the past ten years, had become the majority party in the National Assembly. This state of affairs created conditions that made it possible for Mutharika‟s assertion of corruption in the previous government to fall on receptive ground and to flourish leading to negative assessment of the UDF‟s record.

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