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From the Great Lakes to the Great Rift Valley: Does Strategic Economic Policy Explain the 2009 Malawi Election?

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  • Samuel Brazys

    (UCD Geary Institute and School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin)

  • Peter Heaney

    (GOAL Ireland)

  • Patrick Paul Walsh

    (UCD Geary Institute and School of Politics and International Relations, University College Dublin)

Abstract

Ethno-regional voting cleavages have featured in a number of sub-Saharan African states during the third wave of democratization following the end of the Cold War.While the causes and consequences of these cleavages are well studied, there have been surprisingly few attempts to understand how strategies of pan-ethnic or pan-regional coalition building based on distributive economic policies could be employed to secure national electoral coalitions. In this paper we examine if in the 2009 Malawian parliamentary elections the newly-formed national party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), led by the President Binguwa Mutharika used its incumbent position to promote an economic policy based on food security in order to overcome traditional ethno-regional voting patterns and win a nationwide electoral majority. After presenting a formal model of a optimal allocation of an economic resource to overcome ethnic bias and induce vote-switching, we use district-level data in a system of equations to analyze if strategic allocation within the national fertilizer subsidy program contributed to the nation-wide electoral victory of the DPP.

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File URL: http://www.ucd.ie/geary/static/publications/workingpapers/gearywp201401.pdf
File Function: First version, 2014
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201401.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: 28 Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201401

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  1. Michael Bratton & Mwangi S. Kimenyi, 2008. "Voting in Kenya: Putting Ethnicity in Perspective," Working papers 2008-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  2. AfDB AfDB, . "Malawi - Country Profile," Country Brochure, African Development Bank, number 110.
  3. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  4. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  5. Jacob Ricker-Gilbert & Thomas S. Jayne & Ephraim Chirwa, 2010. "Subsidies and Crowding Out: A Double-Hurdle Model of Fertilizer Demand in Malawi," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(1), pages 26-42.
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