Primary Elections in New Democracies

The Evolution of Candidate Selection Methods in Ghana

Authored by: Nahomi Ichino , Noah L. Nathan

Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138684089
eBook ISBN: 9781315544182
Adobe ISBN:


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Primary elections are increasingly used to select legislative candidates in new democracies around the world (Field and Siavelis 2008; Öhman 2004). This includes sub-Saharan Africa, where at least one major party in each of the 15 countries listed in Table 22.1 now holds legislative primary elections. 2 These primaries have mainly been adopted as party rules, not legislation, and the rules vary widely across countries and over time. 3 Many involve small groups of local party supporters convening to choose nominees in each district. Other primaries, such as those in Uganda, Botswana, and, recently, in one of Ghana’s main parties, are large-scale elections of all rank-and-file party members, similar to primaries in much of the United States. Primaries in Africa have received only very limited attention, 4 however, reflecting the general neglect of primaries outside of advanced industrial democracies in the existing literature. 5 What explains the adoption of democratic candidate selection mechanisms in new democracies? And how do party leaders in these countries decide what rules to use in primary elections?

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