UCL Uncovering Politics

Intermarriage and Voting in Africa

Episode Summary

This week we are looking at ethnic voting in Africa. What is it? What are its effects? And how are increasing rates of intermarriage changing it?

Episode Notes

Ethnic voting means voting on the basis of ethnic identity, rather than, say, policy preferences or how well or badly you think the incumbents have governed. 

Ethnic and other forms of communal voting are found in many parts of the world – think, for example, of very different voting patterns between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland. But ethnic voting is often thought particularly to be a feature of politics in many African countries.

And such voting is also often seen as rather problematic for healthy democracy, because it can shield those in power from accountability if they govern poorly.

Well a new study published last year sheds fresh light on ethnic voting in Africa. It focuses particularly on the fact that increasingly many marriages in many African countries now cross ethnic lines. And it explores the impact of such marriages on voting. One of its authors is Dr Adam Harris, Associate Professor in Development Politics in the UCL Department of Political Science and an expert on the politics of sub-Saharan Africa and he joins us for this episode.

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