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Rural bias in African electoral systems: legacies of unequal representation in African democracies

Boone, Catherine ORCID: 0000-0001-5324-7814 and Wahman, Michael (2015) Rural bias in African electoral systems: legacies of unequal representation in African democracies. Electoral Studies, 40. pp. 335-346. ISSN 0261-3794

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.electstud.2015.10.004


Although electoral malapportionment is a recurrent theme in monitoring reports on African elections, few researchers have tackled this issue. Here we theorize the meaning and broader implications of malapportionment in eight African countries with Single Member District (SMD) electoral systems. Using a new dataset on registered voters and constituency level election results, we study malapportionment's magnitude, persistence over time, and electoral consequences. The analysis reveals that patterns of apportionment institutionalized in the pre-1990 era established a long-lasting bias in favor of rural voters. This "rural bias" has been strikingly stable in the post-1990 era, even where the ancien regime has been voted out of power. These findings underscore the importance of the urban-rural distinction in explaining electoral outcomes in Africa.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Departments > Government
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2015 10:57
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 02:18

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