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Title: Voter turnout in Sub-Saharan Africa
Author: Dray, James Daniel
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis addresses the question of who votes in Africa and why. It uses three sets of quantitative data at three different levels to test its claims: an original compilation of national level institutional and socioeconomic indicators for over 700 elections from independence until 2006 compiled by the author; the Afrobarometer survey of almost 50 000 voters in 17 multiparty African regimes; and the first ever purpose-built survey aimed at testing rational choice turnout models in an African case study, which was designed, administered and analysed by the author in 2005 in Durban, South Africa. It uses a mixture of statistical methods to test comprehensively the determinants of voting in pooled and multilevel, logistic and linear, individual and national level models. It finds that the central claims of the rational choice model do not generally apply in African elections. Both the closeness of the election and the costs of participation are not found to be central to the voting calculus of African voters. Instead those citizens who face the highest barriers to participation in the West: the rural, poor and minimally educated, are the citizens who vote most in Africa. The thesis argues that this is because turnout in Africa is mobilised turnout and these are the groups of people targeted by mobilising agents. It further finds that three central institutions of African politics; ethnicity, clientelism and regime type further structure patterns of mobilisation in ways that have been entirely neglected in studies of turnout until now. Finally, it confirms that voting is habitual and that voters are socialised by formative experiences in their youth, especially the nature of the regime that they grow up in and how democratic they think the country is.
Supervisor: Tilley, James; Wiliams, Gavin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science ; Democratic government ; Governance in Africa ; Elections ; Rational choice and signalling theory ; African politics ; voter turnout ; Africa ; rational choice