THE MORAL ECONOMY OF ELECTIONS IN AFRICA, democracy, voting and virtue

: Cheeseman (N.), Lynch (G.) & Willis (J.)

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359pp., paperback, Cambridge, 2020


"A fresh and nuanced exploration of elections in Africa through the lens of moral virtue. How do political actors – citizens, politicians, officials – endeavor to ‘do the right thing' (as they see it) about voting, seeking office and managing the polls? Using multiple research methods, the authors uncover a range of complex popular conceptions of good leadership and proper elections. They find that, in resolving tensions between civic virtue and patrimonial obligation, many Africans are constructing forms of political accountability that are culturally authentic." Michael Bratton, Michigan State University

"Why do people invest time, money and energy in elections that are not free and fair? This provocative book draws on careful research in Kenya, Uganda and Ghana to persuasively argue that a politics of virtue is at play, in which both voters and politicians use elections to stake out moral claims. The book, which challenges conventional understandings of elections, such as those that focus on patrimonial and ethnic politics, is certain to gain recognition as one of the most important theoretical works on African politics." Aili Mari Tripp, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Nic Cheeseman is Professor of Democracy and International Development at the University of Birmingham. He is the author or editor of ten books, including Democracy in Africa (2015) and How to Rig an Election (2018). He was awarded the 2019 Joni Lovenduski Prize for outstanding professional achievement by a midcareer scholar from the UK Political Studies Association. He is the founding editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of African Politics and the founder of

Gabrielle Lynch is Professor of Comparative Politics at the University of Warwick. She is the author or editor of five books, including I Say to You: Ethnic politics and the Kalenjin in Kenya (2011) and Performances of Injustice: The politics of truth, justice and reconciliation in Kenya (2018). She is the Vice President of the British Institute in Eastern Africa and Deputy Chair of the Review of African Political Economy.

Justin Willis is Professor in History at Durham University. He is the author of Mombasa, the Swahili and the making of the Mijikenda (1993), Potent Brews: A social history of alcohol in East Africa 1850-1999 (2002) and co-editor of The Sudan Handbook (2011). He has served as Director of the British Institute in Eastern Africa.