Courting Non-coethnics in Plural Patronage Democracies: The Centrality of the Campaign Rally

Posted: 19 May 2020

Date Written: February 3, 2020

Abstract

In Africa’s highly ethnically-diverse states, presidential candidates must ensure cross-ethnic support to win elections, and recent work has drawn attention to the importance of direct appeals to voters in election campaigns. Campaign rallies are the preferred medium for direct cross-ethnic outreach for a number of reasons: in the absence of strong parties, rallies provide venues for introducing candidates to voters, for the all-important endorsements of the candidates by local notables, and for the performances of various rituals of “adoption”, bonding, leadership, community, proximity and hospitality. Because campaign rallies fulfil similar functions for candidates seeking votes, their scripts and choreography are remarkably similar across parties and over time. Understanding the characteristics and functions of the campaign rally as a medium for cross-ethnic communication is therefore central to understanding the nature of the resulting pre-election coalitions. Empirically, the paper draws on extensive fieldwork in Kenya, over 50 video-taped and transcribed rallies from the 2017 election campaign, and media reports from previous campaigns.

Keywords: Africa, Kenya, Campaigns, Campaign Rallies, Elections

Suggested Citation

Gadjanova, Elena, Courting Non-coethnics in Plural Patronage Democracies: The Centrality of the Campaign Rally (February 3, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3582522

Elena Gadjanova (Contact Author)

University of Exeter ( email )

Northcote House
The Queen's Drive
Exeter, Devon EX4 4QJ
United Kingdom

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