Photo: Siri Gloppen

There are nearly 50 electoral authoritarian regimes in the world, making them the most common regime type aside from democracy. In these settings, the ruling party permits opposition but stifles their chances to win. Why do individuals run for legislative office on opposition versus ruling party tickets in such regimes?

Wegehorst will explore this puzzle in the context of Tanzania, where the ruling party has been in power for over 50 years. He has develop an original theory of candidacy in electoral authoritarian regimes by leveraging semi-structured elite interviews with legislators and party activists.

The theory highlights

(1) the importance of pre-election intraparty politics;
(2) heterogeneity in benefits desired from office and benefits gained from losing;
(3) willingness to bear non-monetary candidacy costs; and
(4) how life trajectories from "career partisanship" versus civic activism impact later candidacy decisions.

Weghorst will outline the theory and discuss how it explains differences between opposition and ruling party candidates using a survey conducted with national legislators in Tanzania. Employing a number of innovative survey techniques, including the "life history calendar," He argues that his theory can account for as much as 80% of variation in the party affiliation of legislators.

Keith Weghorst is Post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University. He completed his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Florida in 2015.  

His research ties into three broad themes in political science: parties and party systems, legislatures and legislative candidacy, and electoral authoritarianism.  His dissertation study was on legislative candidacy in electoral authoritarian regimes in Africa and specifically, why individuals compete on opposition tickets given the little chance these parties have to win.  He also works on voting behavior and women's representation in sub-Saharan Africa. Wegehorst has extensive experience with survey design and implementation, including research on survey techniques for eliciting sensitive political attitudes and behaviors in the low-income settings and mobile phone based approaches for collecting high frequency panel data in developing countries.

He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Tanzania, Zanzibar, and Ghana.  He has spent more than three years in Tanzania and speaks fluent Swahili.  He implement large-N household and political elite surveys, which include experimental components, innovative networking measures, and various approaches for collecting geospatial data.  

In addition to his academic work, he has served as an advisor for the International Law and Policy Institute (Norway) and as a consultant in Mauritius for the Democratic Accountability and Linkages Project at Duke University.