Interesting recent paper by Francois, Rainer & Trebbi.
They study how revolution and coup threats shape the size and power sharing of ruling coalitions and give an application using data from 15 sub-Saharan African countries.
Here’s what they find:
“Contrary to a view of African ethnic divisions as generating wide disproportionality in access to power, African autocracies function through an unexpectedly high degree of proportionality in the assignment of power positions, even top ministerial posts, across ethnic groups. While the leader’s ethnic group receives a substantial premium in terms of cabinet posts relative to its size (measured as the share of the population belonging to that group), such premia are comparable to formateur advantages in parliamentary democracies. Rarely are large ethnic minorities left out of government in Africa, and their size does matter in predicting the share of posts they control, even when they do not coincide with the leader’s ethnic group.8 We show how these findings are consistent with large overhanging coup threats and large private gains from leadership. Large ruling coalitions (often more than 80 percent of the population are ethnically represented in the cabinet) also suggest looming threats of revolutions for African leaders.”
I suppose this is not news to specialists, but I was surprised at how ethnically diverse cabinets were in these 15 countries.