Return to: Search Page or to: Table of Contents Vol. 19, Issue 6

Staffan I Lindberg, "Have the cake and eat it: The rational voter in Africa," Party Politics, 19 (November 2013), 945-961. [Available at http://ppq.sagepub.com/content/vol19/issue6/ ]

First paragraph:
Imagine a newly established democracy with somewhat chaotic election campaigns where parties and a host of affiliated candidates of all kinds struggle to win votes. Rural, poor and uneducated voters are mixing in the electorate with the modern, well-dressed urbanites. As a candidate for, and perhaps incumbent of, legislative office, you face innumerable demands and expectations: Pay the school fees for this poor family's children, hospital charges for that old woman, build toilets for a village in your area and construct a well for another, give cell-phones and motorbikes to your 'boys' who will campaign for you, provide a car and petrol for the transportation of a diseased constituent to the far away cemetery, roofing sheets for a family whose house is damaged, cement for building another school block in your area's elementary, lobby for tarring of the main road, cash handouts for young men to have a beer, find a development organization that will bring some kind of project to your constituency . . . and so on in eternity. Everything seems implicitly or explicitly to be tied to support in the upcoming election.

Figures and Tables:
Table 1. What is most important in legislative elections?
Table 2. Core and swing voters splitting their vote?
Table 3. Core-swing voters and ethnicity.
Table 4. Determinants of opposition and incumbent vote (for MP) in 10 districts in Ghana 2008
Figure 1. Voting against incumbent MP.
Appendix 1: Sampling procedure

Last Paragraph:
(Second paragraph of Conclusions) Based on a pre-election survey carried out in ten strategically selected constituencies in Ghana in August 2008, we find that to the extent politicians in this country engage in supplying significant levels of clientelistic goods (as already indicated by Lindberg (2009, 2010)), they seem to be acting as rational actors in the sense of selecting efficient means by which to achieve their end (re-election). A vast majority of some 85 percent of citizens primarily expects their legislators to supply small-scale 'club' goods to communities or purely private goods to individuals. Based on this data, it seems that any politician who does not want to be unemployed after the next election would be foolish not to provide some level of collective, if small-scale, goods.

Last updated November 2013