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Tribalism as a Minimax-Regret Strategy: Evidence from Voting in the 2007 Kenyan Elections

Author

Listed:
  • Mwangi S. Kimenyi

    (University of Connecticut)

  • Roxana Gutierrez Romero

    (University of Oxford)

Abstract

Although many studies find that voting in Africa approximates an ethnic census in that voting is primarily along ethnic lines, hardly any of the studies have sought to explain ethnic voting following a rational choice framework. Using data of voter opinions from a survey conducted two weeks before the December 2007 Kenyan elections, we find that the expected benefits associated with a win by each of the presidential candidates varied significantly across voters from different ethnic groups. We hypothesize that decision to participate in the elections was influenced by the expected benefits as per the minimax-regret voting model. We test the predictions of this model using data of voter turnout in the December 2007 elections and find that turnout across ethnic groups varied systematically with expected benefits. The results suggest that individuals participated in the elections primarily to avoid the maximum regret should a candidate from another ethnic group win. The results therefore offer credence to the minimax regret model as proposed by Ferejohn and Fiorina (1974) and refute the Downsian expected utility model.

Suggested Citation

  • Mwangi S. Kimenyi & Roxana Gutierrez Romero, 2008. "Tribalism as a Minimax-Regret Strategy: Evidence from Voting in the 2007 Kenyan Elections," Working papers 2008-35, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uct:uconnp:2008-35
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    File URL: http://web2.uconn.edu/economics/working/2008-35.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
    2. Mwangi Kimenyi & William Shughart, 2010. "The political economy of constitutional choice: a study of the 2005 Kenyan constitutional referendum," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 1-27, March.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:62:y:1968:i:01:p:25-42_11 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
    5. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:68:y:1974:i:02:p:525-536_11 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
    8. Michael Bratton & Mwangi S. Kimenyi, 2008. "Voting in Kenya: Putting Ethnicity in Perspective," Working papers 2008-09, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    9. Benny Geys, 2006. "'Rational' Theories of Voter Turnout: A Review," Political Studies Review, Political Studies Association, vol. 4(1), pages 16-35.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:69:y:1975:i:03:p:920-925_24 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Mikami, Satoru, 2014. "Inter-Ethnic Hostility and Mobility of Political Power: Changing Influences of Perceived Horizontal Inequalities," Working Papers 69, JICA Research Institute.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economics of Voting; Voting Paradox; Minimax-regret; Ethnic Divisions;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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