NomadIT Conference Suite

ECAS 2019. Africa: Connections and Disruptions

Who are African politicians?
Date and Start Time [TBD] at [TBD]
Sessions [TBD]


Mail All Convenors

Short abstract

This panel will focus on African politicians. It aims to identify their profiles, biographies, and careers across times. It aims to offer original data, and discuss new methodological approaches.

Long abstract

Since the 1990s, the African continent has been marked by major changes such as economic reforms or democratization. But we still know very little about male and female politicians who have succeeded the leaders of independence. Available data and researches are uneven across parts of the African continent.

This panel aims to identify who are the current African politicians. It will focus on elected and partisan political figures (members of council, parliament, government or party) from any African country. Three points will be given priority:

- First, we expect proposals analysing the socio-biographical characteristics of African politicians, and its evolution. Studies based on quantitative methods or on prosopography will offer data on the profile of former or current politicians (i.e. gender, age, marital status, degrees, profession, activism, partisan affiliation, family background etc.). Did literate male elites of independence disappear in favour of other categories of population (such as women, traders, slaves or religious)? Is there prevailing political figures across times? Under which conditions some changes have orccured?

- Secondly, we will focus on political careers. How do politicians enter politics, and carve out a career? Are they based on individual or collective (family, party-delegated, etc.), national or international capital? Are they professional politicians?

- Finally, we will debate methodological issues. How to do research on African political staff? What sources are available? How to analyse some public and private writings (official publishing, biographies, memoirs, etc.)? What obstacles do researchers face to produce statistics, or prosopography?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Political elites in Madagascar: trajectories and connections with the other elite segments

Author: François Roubaud (IRD) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Based on a unique and representative survey of hyper-elites in Madagascar, the paper aims at exploring the specificity of political elite trajectories (individual and familial) and at investigating their interconnections with other elite segments (economic, bureaucratic, religious, military…).

Long abstract

Elites are central to institutions and organisations, given that they are fashioned and controlled by individuals and social groups or coalitions whose most influential players are elites. Most of the recent studies on elites in Africa are concerned with how these elites affect the development process in general (based on the generic opposition between rent-seeking elites and developmental elites). However little is known about this "small world" while a major challenge facing the academic community in its quest to advance in its research on elites is precisely how to define them and identify who they are in concrete terms based on sound empirical data.

This paper pursues three interlinked objectives. First, it provides a methodological contribution to bridge the knowledge gap by presenting a unique statistical survey of 1,000 of the most powerful people in Madagascar, representative of all spheres of power (among which 300 top national politicians). Second, the paper contrasts their personal and familial biographical trajectories with other elite segments to identify their characteristics and specificities, beyond the classical sociodemographic variables (sex, age, education…) taking advantage of the rich set of data available in the survey (in particular their social networks). Finally, we explore how far these politicians are connected with other elite groups, as a potential strategy to access and stay in power. The key role of politicians within the elite nexus will be stressed.

From Sahel to Asmara: shifts in the EPLF leadership and the making of a state ruling class

Author: Paulos Asfaha email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Using collected data from EPLF acurrent and former party members, interviews and a recent fieldwork in Asmara, this paper intends to study Eritrean politicians and political elite making process in Eritrea. Emphasis will be put on educational, ethnic, geographic and social backgrounds.

Long abstract

When the Eritrean People's Liberation Front captured Asmara, then capital of the ex-Ethiopian province in 1991, the movement quickly transformed its organisational structure into government of a de facto independent Eritrea. The liberation movement had already started to function as a quasi-government in what was then called "the liberated zones/ሓራ መሬት ኤርትራ". Since 1977 and the founding congress of the EPLF, its military and political elites ran the day-to-day activities of EPLF-held areas, EPLF-run refugee camps in the Sudan and established relations with various political organisations and states around the globe.

The 1987 congress of the EPLF, the total control of Eritrea in 1991, the de jure independence of Eritrea in 1993; and the period following the 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia can be considered as moments where new figures emerged from the ranks and files, power dynamics changed within the organisation; and veteran members were sidelined if not pushed aside. Even though shifts occurred within the state and party apparatus, the core of the EPLF and the following EPLF-led Eritrea can be restricted to slightly less than 150 persons. Who was co-opted into the higher positions of administration? What legitimacy did individuals have to reach their rank? Why were they promoted or excluded?

Using collected data from EPLF archives obtained from current and former party members, interviews and a recent fieldwork in Asmara, this paper intends to study Eritrean politicians and political elite making process in Eritrea. Emphasis will be put on educational, ethnic, geographic and social backgrounds.

Ethiopian Political Elite: Continuity and Change

Author: Rania Hassan email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

This paper attempts to draw a detailed picture of the Ethiopian political elite; probing the continuity and change in the formation of this elite, its main characteristics and discussing the factors explaining them

Long abstract

This paper looks at the configuration of the Ethiopian political elite since the rise of the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRD). Using the Position Method as a sampling strategy, this paper focuses on political elite in key executive and legislative institutions. The paper concludes that there are three main characteristics of the Ethiopian elite; first, it is a "partisan elite" which means that political parties play a very important role as recruiting mechanisms leaving almost no room for other recruiting channels. Second, it is a ruling elite dominated by politicians and figures who belong to the ruling coalition i.e the EPRDF and its four main parties and to a lesser degree other allied political parties which means the absence of opposition figures. Third it is highly concentrated in what is known as the "inner circle" or "the ministerial core" who play central roles in different circles (i.e. political parties, regional and legislative bodies …etc.,

The paper also discusses factors that explain the above mentioned characteristics particularly the nature of the Ethiopian political system and its revolutionary Democracy that influenced elite and how it is configured as well as ethnic politics in the country.

Julius Maada Bio dans l'arène politique sierra léonaise: trajectoire socio-politique d'un président au destin insoupçonné

Author: Netton Prince Tawa (Université Félix Houphouet Boigny, Côte d'Ivoire) email
Mail All Authors

Short abstract

Cette communication révèle la trajectoire socio-politique du cinquième président de la Sierra Leone indépendante.

Long abstract

Le 31 mars 2018, la Sierra Leone a offert à l'Afrique une alternance politique par l'élection d'un nouveau président. La défaite du parti au pouvoir à l'époque, l'APC, à l'élection présidentielle de mars 2018 a permis le retour de l'opposition politique, le SLPP, aux affaires. Mais le fait marquant de cette alternance politique reste certainement le retour sur la scène d'une personnalité atypique dans le paysage politique sierra léonais. Il s'agit de Julius Maada Wonie Bio.

Troisième personnalité à accéder démocratiquement aux fonctions de président de la république en Sierra Leone depuis le retour du multipartisme dans les années 1990, Julius Maada Bio n'est pourtant pas un homme politique de carrière. Son avènement à cette fonction ne pouvait en conséquence pas se prédire. Qui est donc le cinquième président constitutionnel de la Sierra Léone depuis l'instauration de la République en 1971? Quelle est sa trajectoire socio-politique?

A travers une visite de l'histoire politique de la Sierra Leone, des entretiens conduits auprès de personnalités politiques de la Sierra Leone et de diplomates étrangers, cette communique retrace la trajectoire socio-politique d'un président au destin insoupçonné.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.