The Demand Side of Politics in Africa
29 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 9, 2011
What citizens hold their political representatives accountable for in the era of democratic elections, constitutes one important set of incentives for politicians in a time of competitive elections. Based on a pre-election survey carried out in Ghana in August 2008, this study finds that 70% of citizens expect their legislators to supply small-scale ‘club’ goods to communities. Apparently this is very important in the minds of citizens but yet, does not pay off at election time. Rather, the multivariate analysis reveals that voting is determined primarily by perceptions of the state of the economy and of whether the government’s policies have helped or hurt most people.
This finding is particularly interesting and new in the context of new democracies especially in Africa but also Latin America. The literature on clientelism in new suggests that private goods, favors, and small club goods dominate elections in newer democracies. The implication is that democracy is compromised and that elections contribute to undermining ‘good politics’. The findings from this study in one of Africa’s most advanced new democracies suggest something very different.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation