The Nordic Africa Institute


Contested elections and street politics. Comparing protest coalitions in sub-Saharan Africa

Started • 10 January 2020

Over the last decade, political governance in the global South has increasingly taken the shape of electoral authoritarianism - political systems that are neither truly democratic nor fully authoritarian. In these systems, incumbents typically seek to remain in power by manipulating electoral frameworks. On the African continent, such efforts have frequently been met by protests that have taken many forms. In spite of the growing occurrence of both autocratic electoral manipulation and popular protests, the significant issue of the dynamics and scope of protest mobilisation is understudied.

This project analyses when and why disparate and temporary protest movements evolve into cohesive coalitions and how this affects the ability of protest movements to achieve their aims. The project will investigate this question in four selected countries: Burkina Faso, Burundi, Kenya and Uganda, in order to develop theoretically informed comparisons. This multidisciplinary project draws on expertise from anthropology and political science. Through its multidisciplinary approach and comparative design, the project contributes to theoretical and methodological development as well as empirical knowledge in the fields of electoral authoritarianism and popular protests.

The project is funded by a three-year research grant from the Swedish Research Council (VR).

Project leader: Anders Sjögren (Uppsala University)

Project participants: Jesper Bjarnesen