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Citizens’ Perceptions of Government Responsiveness in Africa: Do Electoral Systems and Ethnic Diversity Matter?

Citizens’ Perceptions of Government Responsiveness in Africa: Do Electoral Systems and Ethnic... How do electoral systems influence citizens’ perceptions of government responsiveness? It is well known that although majoritarian electoral systems emphasize the directness and clarity of the connection between voters and policy makers, proportional representation systems facilitate the representation of all factions in society. Although there have been a few studies of the direct influence of electoral systems on popular attitudes about the political system, the results have not been consistent. The author finds, however, that election systems also affect perceptions of government responsiveness, but the relationship is highly contingent on the degree of ethnic diversity in a society. Using Afrobarometer survey data collected from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, along with contextual variables, this multilevel analysis finds that at lower levels of ethnic diversity, majoritarian electoral systems are much better at boosting citizens’ external efficacy, whereas at higher levels of ethnic diversity, proportional representation systems are more likely to elevate efficacy. The findings have important implications for constitutional design and democratic consolidation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Political Studies SAGE

Citizens’ Perceptions of Government Responsiveness in Africa: Do Electoral Systems and Ethnic Diversity Matter?

Comparative Political Studies , Volume 43 (12): 25 – Dec 1, 2010

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References (39)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2010
ISSN
0010-4140
eISSN
1552-3829
DOI
10.1177/0010414010374019
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

How do electoral systems influence citizens’ perceptions of government responsiveness? It is well known that although majoritarian electoral systems emphasize the directness and clarity of the connection between voters and policy makers, proportional representation systems facilitate the representation of all factions in society. Although there have been a few studies of the direct influence of electoral systems on popular attitudes about the political system, the results have not been consistent. The author finds, however, that election systems also affect perceptions of government responsiveness, but the relationship is highly contingent on the degree of ethnic diversity in a society. Using Afrobarometer survey data collected from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, along with contextual variables, this multilevel analysis finds that at lower levels of ethnic diversity, majoritarian electoral systems are much better at boosting citizens’ external efficacy, whereas at higher levels of ethnic diversity, proportional representation systems are more likely to elevate efficacy. The findings have important implications for constitutional design and democratic consolidation.

Journal

Comparative Political StudiesSAGE

Published: Dec 1, 2010

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