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date: 29 November 2023


A Dictionary of African Politics

Nic Cheeseman,

Eloïse Bertrand,

Sa’eed Husaini


A term that strictly speaking refers to a form of migration or nomadism but is commonly used across West Africa—most notably in Benin—to refer to floor-crossing, i.e. the practice of politicians ‘crossing the floor’ of the legislature to move from the opposition to the government or to leave one party and join another. It originates from the Latin words trans (across) and humus (ground). Transhumance is a controversial practice, as it is often associated with behind-the-scenes deal-making and clientelism, and is said to be one of the causes of a lack of unity and policy cohesion among political parties.