Compromise and Contestation: Understanding the Drivers and Implications of Coalition Behaviour in Africa

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 preelectoral 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.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
journal of african elections vol13 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa