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Multi-Ethnic Coalitions in Africa
Business Financing of Opposition Election Campaigns

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Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: September 2012
  • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • format: Adobe eBook Reader
  • isbn: 9781139575157

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About the Authors
  • Why are politicians able to form electoral coalitions that bridge ethnic divisions in some countries and not others? This book answers this question by presenting a theory of pecuniary coalition building in multi-ethnic countries governed through patronage. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the book explains how the relative autonomy of business from state-controlled capital affects political bargaining among opposition politicians in particular. While incumbents form coalitions by using state resources to secure cross-ethnic endorsements, opposition politicians must rely on the private resources of business to do the same. This book combines cross-national analyses of African countries with in-depth case studies of Cameroon and Kenya to show that incumbents actively manipulate financial controls to prevent business from supporting their opposition. It demonstrates that opposition politicians are more likely to coalesce across ethnic cleavages once incumbents have lost their ability to blackmail the business sector through financial reprisals.

    • Focuses on the formation of multiethnic coalitions in democratizing countries
    • Shows how politics has influenced the development of financial institutions in Africa
    • The first book on the business-state relationship in African countries that uses cross-national data on banks, private credit provision and chambers of commerce
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    • Co-Winner of the 2012 Best Book Award, African Politics Conference Group

    Reviews & endorsements

    "A major contribution. Arriola draws not only from Africanist literatures, but also from scholarship on other regions. His account will be broadly read and influential. Learned, rigorous, and deeply thoughtful. Full marks!"
    Robert H. Bates, Harvard University

    "Under conditions in which the benefits of political office are presumed to accrue only to those who share the ethnicity of the officeholder, how can a multiethnic opposition coalesce to unseat an incumbent? Leonardo Arriola provides an original and compelling answer rooted not in politics, but business: financial deregulation and banking reform liberates private capital holders from government control, which frees them to contribute to the regime’s opponents. Opposition leaders then use this money to buy, upfront, the endorsements of leaders from multiple ethnic groups. By demonstrating the connections between financial and political liberalization, and by solving the long-standing puzzle of explaining the existence of multiethnic coalitions, Arriola makes a valuable contribution to the study of African political economy."
    Daniel N. Posner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    "Arriola's book argues with impressive verve and great learning that African incumbents owe their political longevity to their ability to control domestic capital. In the process, he takes the reader through a comprehensive and compelling tour of post-colonial African political economy, shedding new light on a number of issues in novel ways, from the salience of ethnicity, to the relationship between independence parties and the private sector, and the success of opposition coalitions in the past decade. I believe this book represents an impressive achievement and will be considered one of the landmark works in African political economy."
    Nicholas van de Walle, Cornell University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2012
    • format: Adobe eBook Reader
    • isbn: 9781139575157
    • contains: 31 b/w illus. 1 map 15 tables
    • availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
  • Table of Contents

    1. The puzzle of opposition coordination
    2. A theory of pecuniary coalition formation
    3. The emergence of financial reprisal regimes
    4. The political control of banking
    5. The liberalization of capital
    6. The political alignment of business
    7. Opposition bargaining across ethnic cleavages
    8. Multi-ethnic opposition coalitions in African elections
    9. Democratic consolidation in Africa.

  • Author

    Leonardo R. Arriola, University of California, Berkeley
    Leonardo R. Arriola is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the Vice Chair of the African Politics Conference Group, a research network affiliated with the American Political Science Association, for 2011–13. He has received grants and fellowships from the National Science Foundation; the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame; the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law at Stanford; the Fulbright Program; and the US Department of Education. His work has appeared in journals such as Comparative Politics and Comparative Political Studies. He received the African Politics Conference Group's award for best article published on African politics in 2009.


    • Co-Winner of the 2012 Best Book Award, African Politics Conference Group
    • Honourable Mention, 2014 Luebbert Best Book Award, Comparative Politics Section, American Political Science Association

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