Danny Cassimon and Stef Vandeginste
Discussion paper 2019.03
The paper analyses what drives incumbent presidents, in this case Burundian President Nkurunziza, to decide to run for a contested third term, and how to explain the timing of this decision. Compared to a conventional cost-benefit analysis, the real options approach used here is better capable of capturing additional components of the decision: uncertainty surrounding benefits and costs, opportunities to temporarily delay the decision and potential opportunity costs associated with waiting. The last-minute nature of President Nkurunziza’s announcement to run at the 2015 elections was mainly due to intra-party dissidence. This initially created uncertainty, compromising the incumbent’s chances of successfully exercising the third term option. While international actors failed to seize the momentum, Nkurunziza successfully managed and reduced the uncertainty before finally announcing his candidacy.