n Journal of African Elections - Compromise and contestation - understanding the drivers and implications of coalition behaviour in Africa

Volume 13, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



When and why do African political parties form electoral alliances? And how do these alliances translate into post-electoral governance and policymaking? To answer these questions, this article presents data on pre-electoral coalitions for executive elections formed in all African countries between 1990 and 2013. Office-seeking motives overwhelmingly explain the goals of these coalitions but a variety of other factors, including two-round electoral systems, access to financing and the timing of coalition pacts, help determine whether such coalitions last until election day. Post-electoral coalitions have manifested in three main ways, including pre-electoral pacts that result in post-electoral Cabinet sharing, unity governments intended to end a political crisis, and parliamentary coalitions. The article concludes that while coalitions may occasionally lead to party turnover and end violent conflicts, their long-term consequences with regard to creating strong ties with voters, helping parties mature, encouraging more efficient policymaking and eliminating underlying sources of social contention remain more doubtful.

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