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Ferree: The social origins of electoral volatility in Africa

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Ferree. 2005. The social origins of electoral volatility in Africa. unpublished.

In Brief

VOLATILITY (Y) is the number of seats that parties gain and lose each election. When volatility is too high, politics gets messy (short time horizons, thus bargaining breakdowns and coalition failures); when volatility is too low, incumbents get away with too much. But we know little about volatility, except that it is more common in younger democracies. But WHY DOES VOLATILITY VARY even across young democracies?

There are two likely answers: Institutional arrangements and social cleavages. We know a decent amount about institutions (electoral rules, presidentialism, federalism) but very little about the effects of social cleavages (except for Lipset and Rokkan 1967 and a few other European anlayses).

This paper focuses on SOCIAL CLEAVAGES (X), particularly ethnic cleavages (in Africa), as an explanation.




Assumes that there are, in fact, incentives for aggregation (e.g. electoral incentives).



Research by the same authors

Research on similar subjects


Ferree, Karen (author)Comparative PoliticsPartiesSocial CleavagesParty SystemsLinkageElectionsElectoral Rules

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