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African Successes, Volume IGovernment and Institutions$
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Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226316222

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226316369.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 17 October 2019

New Tools for the Analysis of Political Power in Africa

New Tools for the Analysis of Political Power in Africa

Chapter:
(p.145) 5 New Tools for the Analysis of Political Power in Africa
Source:
African Successes, Volume I
Author(s):

Ilia Rainer

Francesco Trebbi

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226316369.003.0007

The study of autocracies and weakly institutionalized countries is plagued by scarcity of information about the relative strength of different players within the political system. This paper presents novel data on the composition of government coalitions in a sample of fifteen post-colonial African countries suited to this task. We emphasize the role of the executive branch as the central fulcrum of all national political systems in our sample, especially relative to other institutional bodies such as the legislative assembly. Leveraging on the impressive body of work documenting the crucial role of ethnic fragmentation as a main driver of political and social friction in Africa, the paper further details the construction of ethnic composition measures for executive cabinets. We discuss how this novel source of information may help shed light on the inner workings of typically opaque African political elites.

Keywords:   autocracy, ethnic groups, Africa, executive branch, cabinets

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