n Journal of African Elections - Electoral alliances in Africa - what do we know, what can we do?




Under what circumstances do opposition parties form electoral alliances, when are they successful, and how do they contribute to democratisation? These are the leading questions in recent studies of opposition coalitions. This article reviews the quantitative literature on pre-electoral coalitions in Africa and beyond. Although differences in operationationalisation, periodisation, case selection and research design hinder the accumulation of knowledge, the tendency is for the quantitative literature to highlight government policies, opposition features and the economy, whereas the qualitative literature focuses on institutions. In addition, this article points to the party system as a variable in its own right. Shifting from the empirical to the prescriptive, the conclusion discusses an institutional innovation that would help to strengthen opposition coalitions in Africa.


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