SCD projects

Courting non-coethnics: campaigns strategies in Africa’s highly diverse states

Elena Gadjanova


This book project examines how candidates reach across ethnic lines in places where ethnicity is politically salient, but cross-ethnic support is needed to win elections. The question is particularly relevant for Africa’s presidential contests, which are won by majority vote, though countries’ largest ethnic groups often represent less than a third of the total population. The project relies on archival research and extensive interviews with candidates, party strategists and campaign operatives in Ghana and Kenya, and presents the first extensive dataset of presidential candidates’ campaign appeals in Sub-Saharan Africa since the re-introduction of multi-party government in the 1990s. This data makes possible the rigorous testing of a number of assumptions behind existing theories of politics in Africa’s plural societies.