This paper asks whether a country’s choice of electoral system affects the methods citizens use to try to hold their government accountable. A large body of literature suggests that electoral system type has an impact on voting behaviour, but little work has been done on its effects on other strategies for democratic accountability, such as contacting an elected representative and protesting. Using data from 36 African countries, we find that the type of electoral system has a significant relationship with these forms of participation.
While personal insecurity in Africa is typically associated with civil wars, crime is actually a far more common threat to the continent’s citizens. Rates of homicide, sexual assault, and property crime in Africa are often far higher than global averages. Despite such threats, many Africans do not report crimes to the police.
In this paper, we provide evidence on how the provision of social infrastructure such as reliable electricity can be leveraged to increase taxation in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). First, using comprehensive data from the latest round of the Afrobarometer survey, we estimate, via the instrumental variable approach, the effect of access and reliability of electricity on tax compliance attitudes of citizens in 36 SSA countries.
In addition to the growing number of African states that conduct regular elections and embed democratic principles in their constitutions, evidence comes from survey-based research that most Africans support democratic values and reward governments that adhere to democratic rules (Mattes & Bratton, 2007; Bratton & Mattes, 2001). However, in many countries, citizen demand for democracy is not met by supply of democracy (Mattes & Bratton, 2016) as governments, once elected, fail to respect the norms of democratic governance (Gyimah-Boadi, 2015).
In the eyes of his people, former South African President Jacob Zuma’s nine-year tenure, which ended late on Valentine’s Day, was marked by declining popular trust and lacklustre performance.
In any economy, balancing expenditures, revenues, and debts is a delicate and often politicized task. Competing interests and priorities buffet those tasked with planning a viable and stable national budget. For any state, taxes raised from individuals and businesses are a central plinth supporting the provision of services, the maintenance of infrastructure, the employment of civil servants, and the smooth functioning of the state.
Because of a perceived risk of repressive action, some survey questions are likely sensitive in more autocratic countries while less so in more democratic countries. Yet survey data on potentially sensitive topics are frequently used in comparative research despite concerns about comparability.
In most African countries, substantial barriers still inhibit citizens’ access to justice, a new Afrobarometer analysis finds.
Based on a special access-to-justice module in national surveys in 36 African countries, the sobering report identifies long delays, high costs, corruption, the complexity of legal processes, and a lack of legal counsel as major obstacles for citizens seeking legal remedies.
Dozens of African countries regularly conduct national and local elections.
Each election picks a winner.
But beyond winners and losers, the quality of each election also shapes how people feel about their political system in general.
Free and fair elections make people want more democracy.
Elections tainted by repression, fraud, or violence have the opposite effect.
So how good are Africa’s elections?
Afrobarometer surveyed more than 53,000 citizens in 36 countries, in every region of Africa.
A decade-long upward trend in African citizens’ demand for democracy has ended with a downward turn since 2012, according to a new Afrobarometer analysis.
But despite warning signs of a democratic recession, public demand for democracy remains higher than a decade ago, and most Africans still say they want more democracy than they’re actually getting – a good basis for future democratic gains.
One important factor: the quality of elections. African countries with high-quality elections are more likely to show increases in popular demand for democracy.
- On average across 36 African countries, China is the second-most-popular model for national development (cited by 24% of respondents), trailing only the United States of America (30%). About one in 10 respondents prefer their former colonial power (13%) or South Africa (11%) as a model.
South Africa Round 6 Data (2016)
South Africa Round 6 Codebook (2016)
- Across 36 African countries, fewer than half of respondents say they trust their MPs (48%) and local councillors (46%) “somewhat” or “a lot.” Among 12 public institutions and leaders, MPs and local councillors rank eighth and ninth in public trust.
Only half of Africans trust their national electoral commissions, and many fear violence and unfair practices during election campaigns, according to a new report by Afrobarometer.
- Across 36 countries in 2014/2015, Africans express more trust in informal institutions such as religious and traditional leaders (72% and 61% respectively) than in the formal executive agencies of the state (on average 54%).
- That said, people find certain executive agencies, such as the national army and the state presidency, to be quite trustworthy (64% and 57% respectively), especially when compared with legislative and electoral institutions (47% and 44% respectively).
Political and civic engagement by African youth is declining and is particularly weak among young women, according to new Afrobarometer survey findings.
The findings, which are being released on International Youth Day 2016 (August 12), show African youth are less likely than their elders to engage in a variety of political and civic activities, including voting, attending community meetings, joining others to raise an issue, and contacting leaders. Young women express significantly less interest in public affairs than young men.
For advocates of regional integration as a path toward economic and political power for Africa, Afrobarometer’s latest survey findings suggest that many citizens still need to be convinced of the benefits of integration.
In assessing the health of democracies, it is impossible to ignore citizen trust in public institutions. Trust is a cornerstone of democratic legitimacy, triggering citizens’ willingness to contribute to a strong and robust democracy: Citizens who trust their government are more willing to listen and render support to government policies aimed at improving the country (Government Communication and Information System, 2014).
In the run-up to local elections on 3 August 2016, the two leading opposition parties – the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – are portraying the poll as a political watershed for democracy in the country in the wake of the recent Constitutional Court judgment against President Jacob Zuma regarding the use of state funds at his private residence in Nkandla. The two parties have played a crucial role in pushing for accountability on this matter over the past few years and were the applicants in the court case.
South Africa’s fourth democratic local government elections in August 2016 will be a test for the long-ruling but troubled African National Congress (ANC), for opposition parties hoping to claim some major cities, for an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) caught between court orders and logistical realities, and for local government councillors facing their constituents.
The UJ Centre for the Study of Democracy and the UJ Library in partnership with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung invite you to attend The fourth release of Afrobarometer’s latest survey data on: Elections, opposition political parties and trust in institutions.
Prof Steven Friedman – Director: Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Johannesburg / Rhodes University
Dr Holger Dix – Resident Representative: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung
Anyway Chingwete – Afrobarometer
Amid growing concerns about government restrictions on media freedom, Africans overwhelmingly support an independent media that holds government accountable, according to new survey findings from Afrobarometer.
The findings, which are being released on World Press Freedom Day (May 3), show that a majority of African citizens support the media’s “watchdog” role, see the media as effective in revealing government mistakes and corruption, and affirm that journalists “rarely” or “never” abuse their freedom by publishing lies.
Sibusiso Nkomo, speaks to SAfm about recent survey findings on South Africans' perceptions of their country and direction it is taking.
At a glance
- The economy: South Africans say the economy is headed in the wrong direction and the government is failing to manage it.
- Socioeconomic changes since 1994: A majority of South Africans believe there has been no change or there has been a deterioration on a range of indicators.
- Discrimination: A significant proportion of minority race groups believe the government discriminates against them.
Considering the barrage of bad economic news to which South Africans have been subjected, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of 2015 Afrobarometer survey findings on the economy is that on a personal level, citizens seem to be doing slightly better. Furthermore, fewer South Africans in 2015 than in 2011 report having gone without basic necessities during the previous year.
- South Africans’ ratings of current and past political systems remain largely unchanged since 2011, at an average of 6.1 out of 10 points for the post-1994 regime and 3.4 for the apartheid system. However, optimism about the political system in 10 years’ time has declined significantly (from an average of 8.2 points in 2011 to 6.8).
- Although consistently low since 2006, the proportion of South Africans who believe that the government “always” or “often” discriminates against members of their ethnic community increased by 15 percentage point with a divergence between black and minority race groups.
- At least three in 10 Coloured, Indian and white respondents now feel discriminated against by the government versus at least one in 10 black citizens.
Les coupures d’électricité rotatives peuvent défrayer la chronique; l’absence complète d'infrastructures électriques pas souvent. Tous ces deux phénomènes découlent du déficit en énergie électrique de l'Afrique, un obstacle important au développement humain et socio-économique avec des effets pernicieux sur la santé (imaginez des cliniques sans équipement de survie et sans médicaments et vaccins réfrigérés), l'éducation, la sécurité, et la croissance des entreprises.