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Ethnicity and Election Outcomes in Ghana

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  • Thomas Bossuroy

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    (SALDRU, University of Cape Town, South Africa UMR DIAL-Paris-Dauphine)

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    Abstract

    Is ethnicity the critical determinant of election results in Africa? We investigate this question empirically on the 2004 presidential poll in Ghana. We use variables from several data sources matched at the district level, and perform econometric analysis on the turnout rate and party vote shares, and on their evolution between two similar polls. We test the accuracy of two alternate models of voting, an ethnic model and a non-ethnic one that includes variables such as education, occupation or wealth. We provide robust evidence that the ethnic factor is a slightly better explaining factor for the structure of votes in Ghana, but does not rule out the significance of the non-ethnic model. We then show that the ethnic model fails to account accurately for the evolution of votes between two polls, which appears as the result of evaluative votes. Since a changeover of political power has occurred repeatedly in Ghana, the analysis of the motives of the pivotal voter is crucial. Our results show that non-ethnic determinants may ultimately drive election outcomes. _________________________________ L’ethnicité est-elle le déterminant majeur des résultats électoraux en Afrique? Nous étudions empiriquement cette question pour le scrutin présidentiel de 2004 au Ghana, en utilisant des données provenant de sources variées, assemblées au niveau du district. Nous conduisons une analyse économétrique du taux de participation et des résultats des partis politiques, ainsi que de leur évolution entre deux élections similaires. Nous testons la précision de deux modèles alternatifs de vote, un modèle ethnique et un non-ethnique qui inclut des variables telles que l’éducation, la profession ou la richesse. Nous montrons que le facteur ethnique surpasse légèrement le modèle non-ethnique pour expliquer la structure des votes au Ghana, même si ce dernier reste statistiquement valide. Mais le modèle ethnique explique très mal l’évolution des votes entre deux élections, qui apparaît comme le résultat d’un vote d’évaluation politique non ethnique. Comme des alternances se sont produites au Ghana plusieurs fois, les motivations de l’électeur pivot sont cruciales. Nos résultats montrent donc que les facteurs non-ethniques semblent déterminer les résultats des élections.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation) in its series Working Papers with number DT/2011/05.

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    Length: 38 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt201105

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    Keywords: Vote; Ethnicity; Elections; Africa.;

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    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Rohini Somanathan, 2004. "The political economy of public goods: Some evidence from India," Indian Statistical Institute, Planning Unit, New Delhi Discussion Papers 04-17, Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi, India.
    2. Paul Collier & Anke Hoeffler & Dominic Rohner, 2006. "Beyond Greed and Grievance: Feasibility and Civil War," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2006-10, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    3. Edward L. Glaeser, 2005. "The Political Economy of Hatred," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(1), pages 45-86, January.
    4. Dayton-Johnson, Jeff, 2000. "Determinants of collective action on the local commons: a model with evidence from Mexico," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(1), pages 181-208, June.
    5. Michael Bratton & Mwangi S. Kimenyi, 2008. "Voting in Kenya: Putting Ethnicity in Perspective," Working papers 2008-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    6. Bossuroy, Thomas & Cogneau, Denis, 2008. "Social Mobility and Colonial Legacy in Five African Countries," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4314, Paris Dauphine University.
    7. Denis Cogneau & Thomas Bossuroy & Philippe De Vreyer & Charlotte Guénard & Victor Hiller & Phillippe Leite & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps & Laure Pasquier-Doumer & Constance Torelli, 2006. "Inequalities and equity in Africa," Working Papers DT/2006/11, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    8. Roemer, John E., 1998. "Why the poor do not expropriate the rich: an old argument in new garb," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(3), pages 399-424, December.
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