The Day after: Post-Election Government Formation in Africa
Posted: 23 Mar 2015 Last revised: 27 Aug 2015
Date Written: 2015
Elections in Sub-Saharan Africa rarely lead to alternation in executive or legislative power. As a result, while prior studies of elections in the region have shown that the quality of elections varies widely and that greater electoral experience can reinforce the democratization process, few studies have systematically examined patterns of post-election government formation. However, in many African countries, even seemingly non-competitive elections are periods of intra-elite bargaining that can result in the recalibration of ruling coalitions. It remains unknown why some presidents who have comfortably secured reelection choose to appoint opposition members to ministerial positions, while others choose to suppress opposition demands for inclusion in government. In this paper, we investigate incumbent and opposition strategies in the process of post-election government formation. Employing data on over 200 African elections over the past three decades, we examine the conditions in which opposition parties accept election results and whether they opt for legal or extra-institutional strategies in challenging those results. We also examine the composition of incumbents' post-election governments, including the number of parties and opposition members in the cabinet. Finally, we assess the impact of government formation (i.e., opposition inclusion versus exclusion) on subsequent levels of electoral competitiveness and party institutionalization.
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