Legislative Networks and Executive Appointments: The social position of ministers within legislative networks in Ghana, Togo and Gabon

Anja Osei, Daniel Wigmore-Shepherd

Contact: anja.osei@uni-konstanz.de

Personal relations and networks have long been argued to dominate African politics. Since personal power is difficult to measure, much of the literature has remained either anecdotal or has used ethnicity to approximate power distributions. While the anecdotal evidence is rather unsystematic, the literature on ethnic power relations is focused on the group level rather than on individuals. This paper is proposing a social network approach to the analysis of personal power in legislatures and cabinets in three cases: Ghana, Togo, and Gabon. We combine unique survey data on parliamentary discussion networks with a new data set on cabinet appointments. Using Exponential Random Graph Models (ERGMs), we find that power accumulation in one institution correlates with power accumulation in the other in all three countries irrespective of the level of democracy. While case specific constellations like the party system and ethno-regional alliances clearly influence the network structure, individuals still build up their unique power bases to advance their careers. We also find differences between the modes of power accumulation and elite integration across our cases: in Togo, however, power seems to be more concentrated in the hands of a small group that is tightly connected to the president. Ministers have a comparatively longer tenure and are closely tied to the regime. In Gabon, by contrast, elite rotation is more rapid, governments are before an individual gets too powerful and builds alliances to other people. In Ghana, the most democratic of the three cases, personal power is surprisingly strong but powerful individuals play a more integrative role than in the other cases. Our findings could stimulate new debates on personal power, regime survival and elite reproduction across different regimes.

← Schedule