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The Cleavage Model, Ethnicity and Voter Alignment in Africa: Conceptual and Methodological Problems Revisited

  • Gero Erdmann


    (GIGA Institute of African Affairs)

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    Recent research on political parties and ethnicity has challenged the conventional wisdom about ethnicity as the major factor that explains voter alignment in Africa. The paper maintains that the cleavage model, although modified to include ethnicity, still provides heuristically the best foundation for the explanation of party formation and voting behaviour in Africa. It points out that inconclusive and contradicting research results about the salience of ethnicity can be attributed to a variety of unresolved methodological and conceptual problems linked to the ‘fluidity’ of the concept of ethnicity. To overcome these problems refined research designs and more sophisticated analytical tools are required. Finally, it is safe to assume that the relevance of ethnicity for the formation of party systems and voter alignment is not a uniform pattern across Africa, but will differ from one country to the other.

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    Paper provided by GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies in its series GIGA Working Paper Series with number 63.

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    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: Dec 2007
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:gig:wpaper:63
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    1. Gero Erdmann, 1999. "Parteien in Afrika. Versuch eines Neuanfangs in der Parteienforschung," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 34(3), pages 375-393.
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