Michelle Kuenzi and Gina M.
S. Lambright, "Who votes in Africa? An examination of
electoral participation in 10 African countries," Party
Politics, 17 (November, 2011), 767-799. [Available
The question 'Who votes in the United States?' has been
largely answered in the political science scholarship
devoted to this subject (e.g. Nie et al., 1976; Teixeira,
1987; Verba et al., 1995; Wolfinger and Rosenstone, 1980).
In contrast, the question 'Who votes in Africa?' has yet to
receive significant attention. Several studies have examined
political participation within a single African country
(e.g. Bratton, 1999; Kuenzi, 2006), but there has been
little cross-national research to explore the nature of
electoral participation across Africa's multiparty regimes.
Now that most African states have at least the formal
features of democracy, such as multiparty elections, it is
important to see whether the norms and behaviour of the
citizenry support these democratic institutions. This
article seeks to identify the factors associated with
electoral participation in sub-Saharan African countries.
- Figures and
- Table 1. Estimates of electoral participation in 10
African countries (logit). Dependent variable: Vote in
- Table 2. Party identification in Africa
- Table 3. Estimates of electoral participation in 10
African countries with interactions. Dependent variable:
Vote in last election?
- Table 4. Predicted probabilities of voting in Africa.
Impact of education and party identification
- Table 5. Estimate of electoral participation in
Nigeria (logit). Dependent variable: Vote in last
- Appendix 1. Summary statistics
- Appendix 2. Additional estimate of electoral
participation in 10 African countries (logit)
(First paragraph of conclusions) In this study, we test the
external validity of many of the results involving electoral
participation and find that some are not applicable in the
African context while others are. The political behaviour of
the citizens of African countries is influenced by many of
the same forces that influence political behaviour
elsewhere. As in other regions of the world, the voting
decisions of citizens in Africa is affected by the perceived
costs and benefits associated with voting. Once one takes
into account the nature of the political and social
landscape of Africa, the political behaviour of African
citizens is comprehensible. In the 'low information',
neopatrimonial environments of Africa, political parties
play a major role in determining who votes. Despite their
putative weakness, political parties decrease the costs and
increase the benefits associated with voting in Africa.
Associational membership also increases the likelihood that
one will vote in Africa. Some attitudes, such as political
interest, support for democracy, political trust,
perceptions of the economy and evaluations of government
performance, also appear to influence who votes in Africa.
In addition, the results reported in this article support
the contention that certain institutional arrangements
affect individuals' propensity to vote.