The Moral Economy of Elections in Africa
Imagine that you are right now in front of a ballot box ready to place your vote. What has made you chose this party, this candidate? You are free to choose how to make your vote, but there are a number of factors that influence your final decision. It may be that you choose a candidate because his values are close to yours, because you believe that he will develop your country better or simply because he is from your kin, speaks your language and you believe that he will better defend the interests of your community.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, all this occurs in a context of relatively young states in which national identity is fragmented between historically differentiated communities which were only united after europeans traced down some lines at the Berlin Conference. In many African countries, voting also occurs under a dictatorship where the level playing field is not balanced and in which elections will hardly change the situation. All mixed with a background presence of international observers, members of civil society and electoral institutions that try to educate citizens in democracy.
Nic Cheeseman, Gabrielle Lynch and Justin Willis