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Type Journal Article - Comparative Political Studies
Title Citizens' perceptions of government responsiveness in Africa: Do electoral systems and ethnic diversity matter?
Volume 43
Issue 12
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers 1651-1674
How do electoral systems influence citizens’ perceptions of government responsiveness? It is well known that although majoritarian electoral systems emphasize the directness and clarity of the connection between voters and policy makers, proportional representation systems facilitate the representation of all factions in society. Although there have been a few studies of the direct influence of electoral systems on popular attitudes about the political system, the results have not been consistent. The author finds, however, that
election systems also affect perceptions of government responsiveness, but the relationship is highly contingent on the degree of ethnic diversity in a society. Using Afrobarometer survey data collected from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, along with contextual variables, this multilevel analysis finds that at lower levels of ethnic diversity, majoritarian electoral systems are much better at boosting citizens’ external efficacy, whereas at higher levels of ethnic diversity, proportional representation systems are more likely to elevate efficacy. The findings have important implications for constitutional design and democratic consolidation.

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