] We establish three main findings. (i) Even with social and attitudinal controls, ethnicity is a significant predictor of party support in most, although not all, African societies under comparison. (ii) Yet the strength of this association varies cross-nationally, with the linkages strongest in societies divided by many languages, such as Namibia and South Africa, while playing an insignificant role in African countries where ethno-linguistic groups are more homogeneous, including Lesotho and Botswana. (iiii) Moreover structural explanations are limited: evaluations of the policy performance of the party in government also influenced patterns of party support, even with prior social controls. The conclusion summarizes the results and considers their broader implications for understanding the political role of ethnicity within plural societies.