Accepted paper:

Classifying African Political Parties Preliminary Evidence from Kenya, Ghana and Namibia


Sebastian Elischer (Leuphana University Lüneburg/ German Institute of Global and Area Studies)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Although ethnicity is generally assumed to exercise great salience in African politics, African political parties have been rarely analyzed in a comparative and systematic way. The paper uses a party typology originally developed by Richard Gunther and Larry Diamond (2001) as framework of comparison for African parties. It distinguishes the following party types: the mono-ethnic party, the multi-ethnic alliance party, the multi-ethnic integrative party, the personalistic party and the programmatic party. While the first two categories constitute “ethnic parties” as defined by Horrowitz (1985) all other are regarded as non-ethnic ones. In order to distinguish between all five party categories the paper uses the following indicators: party leadership composition, party factions, electoral campaigns, national outreach and party nationalisation scores. In doing so the paper goes beyond an analysis of voting behaviour which has become fairly popular in the recent literature. In a second step the classification scheme will be applied to politically significant parties in Kenya, Ghana and Namibia between 1991 and 2007. Empirical evidence shows that diverse party types exist across all three countries. While Kenya’s party system is characterised by mono-ethnic parties and ethnic alliances, Ghana’s and Namibia’s political parties are non-ethnic in character. In its conclusion the paper formulates hypotheses which aim at explaining the existence of different types across countries and which could guide future research into African political parties.

panel D1
Local Governance & Individual Voices