The Economic Determinants of Electoral Volatility in Africa

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Party Politics


Democratic performance and party system institutionalization (PSI) are thought to be integrally linked. Electoral volatility is an important dimension of PSI and has thus been the focus of many studies. Despite the attention given to electoral volatility, its determinants remain elusive. We examine the determinants of electoral volatility in 35 African countries from 1972 to 2010. This study extends the prior literature by analyzing the effects of two previously unexamined variables, foreign aid and structural adjustment, on electoral volatility. Our results indicate that electoral volatility is lower when foreign aid is high, while structural adjustment programs are associated with increased volatility. Our findings contribute to the research on the political economy of aid, illustrating the impact of these economic practices on election outcomes. Political institutions and social demography also appear to affect volatility. Based on our analysis, the party systems of Africa generally do not appear to be institutionalizing.


Africa, electoral volatility, foreign aid, party systems, structural adjustment



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