When Voting is Not Black and White

23 sep 2016 09:00 10:00 ENG

Ethnic Proximity and Voter Preferences in Africa’s New Democracies. Breakfast seminar with Adam Harris.

What explains why some voters do not align with their ethnic group when group-based voting norms are strong? For example, across twenty African countries between 30-53% of voters with a co-ethnic party will not vote with their group. Adam Harris uses the concept of ethnic proximity, an exogenous measure and continuous conceptualization of ethnicity, to explain the propensity of a voter to support her group's party. Adam argues that those who are less ethnically prototypical of their group are more likely to be swing voters in ethnically charged elections because they lack a sense of linked fate with their group. He investigates this relationship in South Africa using a panel survey of 1,170 respondents, which brackets the 2014 elections. The results show that those who are less ethnically proximate to their group are significantly less likely to adopt group norms and more likely to change their preferences due to political campaigns.

This event is organised by Centre on Law & Social Transformation

Photo: jauretsi / Flickr