Campaign strategies

Authored by: Eric Kramon

Routledge Handbook of Democratization in Africa

Print publication date:  July  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138081246
eBook ISBN: 9781315112978
Adobe ISBN:


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Although elections alone do not make a democracy, election campaigns are a focal point for the democratic process and can have a significant impact on the process of democratic consolidation. This chapter provides an overview of research on campaign strategies in Africa. It examines the various strategies that political parties in African democracies often employ, including door-to-door canvassing, rallies, engagement with community organizations and traditional leaders, clientelism and vote buying, violence and intimidation, and advertising in old and new media, including social media. The chapter highlights what the literature suggests about the role of these strategies in campaigns and about how they are strategically allocated by parties. The chapter also engages with the literature on party communication strategies, discussing the propensity for valence appeals to dominate political discourse, the relative impact of localized versus more universalistic campaign appeals, and the strategic use of ethnic wedge issues. The chapter concludes by highlighting areas for future research, emphasizing that further research is needed about how parties select from their “menu” of campaign strategy options when building their strategy “portfolio”; about how the structure of party organization and interactions between different actors in the party hierarchy shape party campaigns and contact with voters; and about how these campaign strategies impact voter behavior, including voter turnout and vote choices, as well as voter attitudes and perceptions about democracy in their country. Such research will advance a more complete understanding of how political party campaign strategies impact the democratization and democratic consolidation process in Africa.

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