Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 17, Issue 6

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 at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol17/issue6/ ]

First paragraph:
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 Tables:
Table 1. Estimates of electoral participation in 10 African countries (logit). Dependent variable: Vote in last election?
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 presidential election?
Appendix 1. Summary statistics
Appendix 2. Additional estimate of electoral participation in 10 African countries (logit)

Last Paragraph:
(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.

Last updated December 2011