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UNU-WIDER Are Electoral Coalitions Harmful for Democratic Consolidation in Africa?

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WP/07 Are Electoral Coalitions Harmful for Democratic Consolidation in Africa?

Electoral coalitions are becoming increasingly popular among opposition parties in Africa because they offer many advantages with respect to reducing party fragmentation and increasing incumbent turnovers. At the same time, however, they are often comprised of parties that are defined predominantly by their leaders’ personalities and exhibit little differentiation in terms of their policy orientation. Based on a dataset spanning all opposition coalitions since 2000 in Africa’s electoral democracies, this paper demonstrates not only that coalitions rarely defeat incumbents but also that they are only competitive when major opposition parties are involved. More significantly, the paper highlights that in many countries, a sizeable share of total electoral volatility is due to fluctuations in voting for opposition parties that have belonged to coalitions. The paper argues that such volatility reflects the inability of coalition members to build loyal constituency bases over time, which is critical for party development and broader consolidation.
Publisher:
UNU-WIDER
Series:
WIDER Working Paper
Volume:
2011/07
Title:
WP/07 Are Electoral Coalitions Harmful for Democratic Consolidation in Africa?
Authors:
Danielle Resnick
Publication date:
January 2011
ISBN 13 Web:
978-92-9230-370-9
Copyright holder:
© UNU-WIDER
Copyright year:
2011
Keywords:
Africa, campaign strategies, electoral volatility, opposition parties, party development
JEL:
D72, N30, N37, O10
Project:
New Directions in Development Economics
Sponsor:
UNU-WIDER gratefully acknowledges the financial contributions to the research programme by the governments of Denmark (Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Finland (Ministry for Foreign Affairs), Sweden (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency—Sida) and the United Kingdom (Department for International Development—DFID).
Format:
online

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