Share this

Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation, Sebastian Elischer

Reviewed by Michael Bratton



If you ask any lay person—or most scholars of comparative politics—about the motivation for party formation in Africa, they are likely to offer the same answer: ethnicity. In a welcome antidote to this orthodoxy, Sebastian Elischer argues that African political parties and party systems are much more diverse than that. He relies upon seminal analysis by Larry Diamond and Richard Gunther to propose a typology of five ideal varieties: the mono-ethnic party, the multi-ethnic alliance, the catch-all party, the programmatic party, and the personalistic party. While the first two types arise from ethnic foundations, the last three are distinctly non-ethnic. If nothing else, this book will discourage future analysts from lazily conflating all forms of party organization in Africa under an ethnic label.

Elischer’s detailed empirical analysis covers all effective parties across all election periods in three African countries between 1990 and 2009. He dis­covers that non-ethnic parties prevail in Ghana, as does a mixed-party system in Namibia; in Kenya, by contrast, he finds that ethnic parties persist. Across 28 observations of election periods, 16 parties are ethnic and 11 are non-ethnic (though non-ethnic parties enjoy grea

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

About PSQ's Editor

Demetrios James Caraley

Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.

Editor’s spotlight

Remembering Fred I. Greenstein

Eisenhower as an Activist President: A Look at New Evidence
Fred I. Greenstein

Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

New APS Book

Continuing Issues in U.S. National Security Policy   CONTINUING ISSUES IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS