Agents of the regime? Traditional leaders and electoral behavior in South Africa

TitleAgents of the regime? Traditional leaders and electoral behavior in South Africa
Publication TypeWorking paper
Year of PublicationSubmitted
Authorsde Kadt D, Larreguy H
Abstract

Traditional leaders are often given sub-national territorial authority in developing democracies. Though ubiquitous, the political consequences of their power has received little attention. We argue that traditional leaders, whose power depends on the state, are incentivized to strategically support political parties who can guarantee their survival and provide them with rents. We study this quid pro quo in the Apartheid-era Bantustans of South Africa. We show that an alignment between the incumbent party and the chiefs maps to increased political support for the party. Our results suggest that chiefs boost African National Congress (ANC) vote share by 8.2 percentage points in the Bantustans. This translates into roughly 4.5% of the ANC's total vote share, and a distortion in the national vote of 2.5 percentage points. This distortion is pivotal in determining whether the ANC is able to alter South Africa's constitution. We then quantitatively explore the mechanism underpinning these results.

URLhttps://www.dropbox.com/s/o3tsyc6xi9yiqwk/bantustans_draft12.pdf?dl=0