Presidential Elections and Incumbent Electoral Defeat in African Democracies
CitationTaylor, Alex. 2019. Presidential Elections and Incumbent Electoral Defeat in African Democracies. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractAfrica’s democratic development has been accompanied by a growing number of peaceful transitions of power from incumbent to opposition political parties at the presidential level. Existing literature lacks robust comparative analysis of factors leading to incumbent defeat. This paper uses a case study-based approach to explore the presidential elections in Nigeria in 2015, Ghana in 2016, and Zambia in 2011 to explore the historical context leading up to each election and analyze potential determinants of the incumbent’s defeat. The case studies rely on primary source material including campaign and political party websites, official vote tallies from national election commissions, and peer-reviewed academic studies. Contemporaneous media accounts, reports from elections observers, and opinion/analysis articles are also referenced to identify common trends or themes that may explain electoral outcomes.
The analysis concludes that opposition parties in the cases selected obtained victory in countries with robust and independent electoral oversight commissions and with political support for the incumbent declining, due to either eroding support from the party’s base or a changing voter demographic. While the economy can play a factor in an incumbent’s defeat, it is often perceptions about the economy or individual economic indicators (such as rising inflation) that influence voters, rather than just the question of whether the economy as a whole is growing. Coalition building and the unification of opposition parties does not appear to be a determining factor in defeating an incumbent.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365099