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Type Conference Paper - 2016 Southern California Comparative Political Institutions Conference
Title Traditional chiefs and opposition party fragmentation in Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
This paper investigates the determinants of opposition party fragmentation in the developing democracies of Africa. Rater than attribute fragmentation to ethnic diversity or to formal political institutions, I argue that informal institutions, namely the strength of traditional chiefs, explains fragmentation in opposition movements. When chiefs are strong, they are incentivize consolidation in opposition movements. Using Afrobarometer survey data and
electoral returns, I test the relationship between chiefs and opposition fragmentation across a sample of 18 sub-Saharan African countries. I find that, in line with my hypothesis, chief strength is related to lower levels of opposition party fragmentation. This approach can account for why, despite similar electoral institutions and levels of ethnic diversity, we see different levels of opposition party fragmentation in different African countries. The paper should be of interest to scholars of African politics, informal institutions, and party systemS.

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