Preferences without Platforms: How Voters Make Choices in Zambia's Elections

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter

3 Scopus citations


How do Zambian voters make decisions when parties have indistinguishable platforms and do not represent all of Zambia’s ethnic groups? Drawing on an original survey and interview data, this chapter argues that basic service delivery is the most important issue for most Zambians. In an information-poor environment, citizens use past experiences with service delivery both to evaluate the incumbent’s performance and to determine whether there is any utility in voting at all. Voters balance their experiences with service delivery alongside considerations of ethnoregional identity in order to determine which party is most likely to benefit their community. Ultimately, experiences with service delivery allow Zambian voters to evaluate parties and develop preferences in the absence of programmatic platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAfrika-Studiecentrum Series
EditorsTinenenji Banda, O’Brien Kaaba, Marja Hinfelaar, Muna Ndulo
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameAfrika-Studiecentrum Series
ISSN (Electronic)1570-9310


  • ethnic politics
  • party platforms
  • political participation
  • service delivery
  • voter behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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