Theme Panel: Elections, Parties, and Institutions in Africa


Theme Panel: Elections, Parties, and Institutions in Africa

Fri, September 2, 4:00 to 5:30pm

The institutional consequences of sub-Saharan Africa’s democratization remain in doubt. While nearly all countries in region have adopted democratic constitutions, recent scholarship has emphasized the persistent ability of incumbents to exploit the core institutions of national politics: parties, elections, and bureaucracies. Yet, while previous research has advanced our broad understanding of these institutions in the African context, we have accumulated relatively few systematic findings about the mechanisms by which politicians are able to exploit these institutions for their own ends, or, alternatively, the conditions in which the institutions might begin to impinge on the behavior of politicians themselves. How do authoritarian legacies shape the resilience of entrenched ruling parties? To what extent do competitive pressures affect whether politicians choose to invest in building up existing party organizations or creating entirely new ones? How do electoral and partisan factors shape bureaucratic appointments?

This panel addresses such questions through a combination of diverse methodologies and country cases that provide new insights on the ongoing transformation of African political institutions. In his study of ruling parties in Cameroon and Tanzania, Morse employs a comparative historical analysis to show how the authoritarian resilience of those parties stems from distinct institutional sources and has clear consequences for how they compete for office today. In their study of Zambia, Arriola, Rakner et al. investigate party-building strategies by combining a process-tracing analysis of party development with a survey of parliamentary candidates. In her study of Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, Gadjanova examines how presidential candidates attempt to win votes among non-coethnics through an analysis of campaign messages. Hassan’s analysis of village-level appointments across Kenya shows how presidents have manipulated those appointments in order to strengthen the position of parliamentarians from the ruling party. In her paper, Sigman examines appointment data on government ministers in Benin and Ghana to show that well-institutionalized party systems not only have higher levels of elite patronage, but also more stable cabinets.

View in the 2016 Online Program.

Lise Rakner, University of Bergen

Rachel Beatty Riedl, Northwestern University

Party Building and Politician Defection in Zambia
Leonardo R. Arriola, University of California, Berkeley
Lise Rakner, University of Bergen
Donghyun Danny Choi, University of California, Berkeley
Justine Davis, University of California, Berkeley
Ingvild Aagedal Skage, University of Bergen
Melanie Lauren Thompson, University of California, Berkeley
Who Plays the Ethnic Card? Presidential Campaigns in Africa’s Multiethnic States
Elena Gadjanova, Max Planck Institute
Politicizing the Local: Chief Recruitment and Advancement in Kenya
Mai Omer Hassan, University of Michigan
Party States vs State Parties: Cameroon and Tanzania in Comparative Perspective
Yonatan L. Morse, Georgetown University
Patronage and Productivity: Party Systems and State Capacity in Africa
Ann Arbor and Rachel Sigman, University of Gothenburg