Party Footprints in Africa: Measuring Local Party Presence across the Continent

The conventional view holds that most of Africa’s political parties are organizationally weak, with little grassroots presence. Yet few studies are based on systematically collected data about more than a handful of parties or countries at any given point. In this paper, we focus on one crucial aspect of party organization – the local presence that enables political parties to engage with and mobilize voters – and use Afrobarometer data to develop the Party Presence Index, the first systematic, cross-national measure of local party presence in Africa. We then apply the index to a series of substantive questions, confirming its value and demonstrating its potential to add significantly to our understanding of grassroots party organization.