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date: 29 November 2023

three-piece suit voting

A Dictionary of African Politics

Nic Cheeseman,

Eloïse Bertrand,

Sa’eed Husaini

three-piece suit voting 

The practice of supporting candidates from the same party for all political positions—commonly the presidency, member of parliament, and local representative. This is the opposite of another notable clothing-related metaphor, skirt and blouse voting, which refers to splitting one’s vote between rival parties. ‘Three-piece suit voting’ is an apposite phrase because it emphasizes the point that all candidates come from the same political outfit. It is widely used in Kenya but also in a number of other countries. As the number of elected positions has expanded due to processes of devolution in some states, the number of pieces of the suit has had to be revised. Thus, ahead of the Kenyan elections of 2013, when contests were also held for the new positions of county governor, senator, and member of the county assembly, some commentators began referring to a ‘six-piece suit’.