Effective Opposition Strategies: Collective Goods or Clientelism?

Democratization 18(5): 1193-1214

Posted: 21 Apr 2014

See all articles by Keith Richard Weghorst

Keith Richard Weghorst

Vanderbilt University

Staffan I. Lindberg

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

Date Written: October 2011

Abstract

What makes opposition parties win elections in sub-Saharan Africa? The literature on voters in Africa tells us that ballots are won over by clientelism rather than by economic development, thus undermining the quality of collective goods provision and democratic accountability. We challenge this notion drawing insight from the December 2008 Ghanaian elections in which the National Democratic Congress (NDC) came back to power after eight years as opposition party. Using two surveys carried out before and after the elections, we analyze voters’ retrospective sanctioning and prospective selection of incumbent and opposition candidates for legislative office. Our findings show that vote buying and purely clientelistic appeals are insufficient to win elections and that Ghanaian voters value development when choosing political leaders and hold influential retrospective evaluations of performance. The evidence suggests that clientelism as an electoral strategy may be ubiquitous emerging democracies, but as voters gain greater experience in choosing political leaders and longer-term information about retrospective performance, its utility seems diminishes over time.

Keywords: democracy, democratization, elections, voting behavior, survey, Africa, Ghana, clientelism

Suggested Citation

Weghorst, Keith Richard and Lindberg, Staffan I., Effective Opposition Strategies: Collective Goods or Clientelism? (October 2011). Democratization 18(5): 1193-1214. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2376706

Keith Richard Weghorst

Vanderbilt University ( email )

2301 Vanderbilt Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

Staffan I. Lindberg (Contact Author)

Göteborg University - Varieties of Democracy Institute ( email )

Sprängkullsgatan 19
Gothenburg, Gothenburg 405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se/varianter-pa-demokrati--v-dem-/

Göteborg University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 711
Gothenburg, S-405 30
Sweden

HOME PAGE: http://www.pol.gu.se

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