The Demand Side of Politics in Africa

29 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2011

See all articles by Staffan I. Lindberg

Staffan I. Lindberg

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute; Göteborg University - Department of Political Science

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

Lindberg, Staffan I., The Demand Side of Politics in Africa (August 9, 2011). Available at SSRN: or

Staffan I. Lindberg (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30


Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30


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