Pathways of Electoral Clientelism in University Student Elections in Ghana: An Exploratory Study


  • Kwaku Abrefa Busia Lingnan University
  • Alice Amegah University of Cambridge
  • Francis Arthur-Holmes University of Oxford



electoral clientelism, student politics, vote-buying, campus elections, Ghanaian universities


Recent studies on student politics and governance have shown that electoral clientelism (EC) in university student elections is often facilitated by clientelist relations between student leaders and political parties. However, there is a dearth of empirical research investigating the various forms of electoral clientelism, as manifested through vote-buying practices in campus electoral politics in African universities. This article, therefore, investigates the multifaceted and changing dynamics of vote-buying in student electoral processes in Ghanaian universities. The study adopted a qualitative approach based on semi-structured interviews with 15 student leaders, 4 university staff working with student leadership, and 4 focus group interviews involving students at the University of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. From our finding, we argue that electoral clientelism takes place in five crucial ways in university student elections in Ghana. These include the provision of direct cash payments, exchanging electoral support for student government positions and appointments, provision of food and beverage consumables, award of student-related business contracts, and provision of educational materials and souvenirs.