Exploring Voter Alignments in Africa: Core and Swing Voters in Ghana
Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 1-22, 2005
22 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2007 Last revised: 9 Jan 2014
This article describes and analyses voter alignments in the new democracy of Ghana in two recent elections, 1996 and 2000. These elections are a part of the Fourth Republic that began with a 'founding' election in 1992, ushering Ghana into Africa's new wave of democratisation. First the size of the core voting population is established to be about 82% of the voting population, refuting the assumption that voting volatility in new and transitional democracies is always extremely high. A second conclusion is that core and swing voters cannot be distinguished by structural factors, whereas thirdly, the factors behind the party alignment of core voters are similar to Western patterns; primarily level of education, the rural-urban divide, income, and occupation. Finally, swing voters seem to be characterised by a conscious evaluation of government and candidate performance in a sign of relatively 'mature' democratic voting behaviour.
Keywords: elections, Africa, voting behavior, clientelism, survey, democratization
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