Democracy in Hard Places -- Democratizing the Party: The Effects of Primary Election Reforms in Ghana


Thursday, March 7, 2019, 4:15pm to 5:30pm


Ash Center Foyer, 124 Mount Auburn St., Floor 2, Suite 200N

Join Nahomi Ichino, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, in disucssion. Tarek Masoud, Professor of Public Policy and Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations, will moderate. 

Ghana's major parties recently reformed primary election rules which offers a rare opportunity to assess the effects franchise expansion in contemporary new democracies, where universal suffrage was already established at independence. In this talk, Ichino will propose that democratizing candidate selection by expanding the primary electorate has two consequences in patronage-oriented political systems: the electorate will have more diverse preferences and vote buying will become a less effective strategy. These changes, in turn, affect the types of politicians who seek and win legislative nominations.  Using an original dataset on candidate entry and nominations, she will show that expanding the primary electorate opened paths to office for politicians from social groups that were previously excluded, including women and members of ethnic groups outside a party's core national coalition.

Nahomi IchinoNahomi Ichino is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and a Faculty Associate of the Center for Political Studies and the African Studies Center at the University of Michigan.  Her research interests focus primarily on ethnic politics, voter behavior, and political parties in developing democracies, with a regional specialization in sub-Saharan Africa.  She has a secondary research interest in methodology for comparative politics.  Her work has been published in American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, and other outlets.  She is a member of EGAP (Evidence in Governance and Politics) and her research in Ghana has been supported by the National Science Foundation.  She holds a Ph.D. in political science from Stanford University and was previously on the faculty in the Department of Government at Harvard University.

This discussion is part of the Ash Center's Democracy in Hard Places Initiative, a program co-directed by Scott Mainwaring, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Brazil Studies, and Tarek Masoud, Professor of Public Policy and Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations. Democracy in Hard Places aims to foster social science research on democratic experiments—both successful and failed—throughout the developing world to learn how democracy can be built and maintained in a variety of terrains. The initiative's seminar series brings to campus distinguished scholars and practitioners to analyze the conditions, institutions, and behaviors that enable democracy to survive in hard places.