In this Briefing Paper, we find that even with the significant growth that Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced over the past decade, as of 2008 lived poverty (or the extent to which people regularly go without basic necessities) is still extensive. It has declined in 9 of the Afrobarometer countries for which we have over time data during this period, it has increased in 6 countries. We find that cross-national differences in economic growth help explain differing country trajectories in lived poverty.
Over the past twenty years, approaches to development in Africa have undergone a fundamental change. Practitioners no longer regard development as a largely technical exercise. Economic growth and social wellbeing are now rarely seen as simple matters of, say, getting the prices right for maize production or finding a medical cure for guinea worm disease. Instead, we now understand that technical fixes only work well if embedded in a political and organizational infrastructure that generates broad support for policies and ensures the reliable delivery of goods and services.
Towards the end of the 1980s, Zambians’ desire to participate in governing their country was demonstrated by criticism of the one-party state and calls for a return to a multiparty political system. The holding of multiparty elections in 1991 and the proliferation of political parties underscored the Zambians’ preference for democratic government.
Ghana embarked on a transition to democratic rule in the early 1990s after eleven years of quasi-military dictatorship under Ft. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings and the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC). Since then, Ghana has experienced four regularly scheduled multi-party elections (1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004). The third election produced the country’s first experience with an electoral turnover. For the first time, power was transferred through the ballot box. Ghana is now headed for its fifth multi-party elections (in December 2008).
Where does public sentiments under Nigeria’s current Fourth Republic stand in relation to the democratic system. This paper examines the answer to this question.
Indicators of popular demand for democracy and mass perceptions of the supply of democracy constitute signature items for the Afrobarometer. We have reported elsewhere trends in these aspects of public opinion for 12 countries across three rounds of surveys, 1999-2006. (see “Where is Africa Going? Views from Below,” Afrobarometer Working Paper No. 60, Sections 2.2 to 2.4). This Briefing Paper is intended to supplement these findings by providing more detailed results for the same set of questions (plus two new questions) across all 18 countries that now participate in the project.
This briefing, describes changes in democratic attitudes in Lesotho and is based on a survey of 1,161 Basotho who are 18 years of age or older, administered between 6 July 2005 and 17 August 2005. The survey was conducted in 145 villages, in census enumeration areas selected by a random process proportional to population, with the help of Lesotho’s Bureau of Statistics. Every district was represented in proportion to its population. A precise method was developed for finding random households within each village.
The Afrobarometer, conducted three surveys of political attitudes and values in Lesotho in the years 2000, 2003 and 2005. The Afrobarometer survey was also carried out one or more times in Benin, Botswana, Cape Verde, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. This briefing, describing changes in democratic attitudes in Lesotho, is based on a survey of 1,161 Basotho who are 18 years of age or older, administered between 6 July 2005 and 17 August 2005.
Almost 20 years have passed since the Berlin Wall came down, an event that was followed in sub-Saharan Africa by pressures for political liberalization and by transitions to multiparty rule. The time is ripe, therefore, to assess the current state of political development in these countries and to track changes in public attitudes that have occurred over the past decade (1999-2008). The central question concerns the fate of democracy, especially as seen by Africans themselves. Do they say they want democracy, a preference that we call the popular demand for democracy?
La démocratie nécessite qu’un certain nombre de libertés soient respectées, telles que la libertéd’expression, la liberté de presse ou encore la liberté d’organisation. Interrogés sur ces libertés, lesMalgaches se montrent dans leur très grande majorité attachés à leur respect.
This briefing focuses on the commitment of Batswana to democracy and elections as a system of government. We find that despite some reasons for concern, such as the lengthy dominance of politics by a single party, and the entry of former military leaders into electoral politics, that Batswana remain strongly and resolutely committed to democracy, and to elections as the preferred means for choosing their leader. They resoundingly reject non-democratic forms of rule, including military rule, one-man rule, and a one-party state.
La grande majorité des Malgaches préfèrent la démocratie et rejettent les régimes non-démocratiques comme mode de gouvernement idéal pour Madagascar. Ceci, même si la plupart d’entre eux restent insatisfaits de la manière dont fonctionne cette démocratie au niveau du pays, selon la dernière enquête d’Afrobaromètre.
Elections are a means for realising some of the core values of democracy, especially participation of the citizenry, which helps to ensure quality governance and accountability on the part of elected officials. The quality of elections therefore provides an indicator of the extent to which democratic governance has been consolidated. The analyses in this paper indicate a significant relationship between citizens’ evaluation of the quality of their national elections and (1) satisfaction with democracy, and (2) trust in political institutions.
This briefing paper provides an analytical view of the process of implementing the new constitution promulgated in 2010 and the subsequent impact it has had on the processes of democracy, governance and constitutionalism in the country. The analysis is based on the results of Round 5 Afrobarometer survey conducted in late 2011.
This bulletin focuses on the extent to which public concerns pertaining to democracy and human rights may contribute to Ugandans’feelings that their country is headed in the wrong direction. While Ugandans express a strong preference for democratic institutions and practices and a majority of respondents express high levels of satisfaction with the current state of democracy and human rights in Uganda, the survey also demonstrates that a considerable gap has emerged between citizens’ expectations of democracy and the realities on the ground in Uganda.
Expert assessments of democracy such as the Freedom House Index, Mo Ibrahim Index on Governance, among others, have always rated Mauritius as a paragon of democracy on the African continent. The availability of data from the 2012 Afrobarometer survey that gauged the attitudes and opinions of Mauritian citizens on democracy, governance, the economy, leadership, identity and other related issues, provides us with the first opportunity to test whether ordinary Mauritians agree with those assessments. At the same time, we can compare Mauritius with other African countries.
Despite the socio-political and economic achievements of Mauritius, there is a palpable feeling that the benefits of development have not been evenly distributed among residents of the country’s two main islands, Mauritius and Rodrigues. While citizens of the main island of Mauritius have benefitted from the economic growth of recent years, the economy on the island of Rodrigues continues to be heavily reliant on agriculture, fishing and a small tourism industry.
This briefing paper assesses public attitudes about democracy and governance in Mali at a difficult time in the country’s history. The challenge of rebuilding an effective and accountablengovernment will require visionary national leadership. But it also will require citizens who demand that the country return to a path of sustainable political development. Hence it is important to enquire about what Malians are thinking about the causes and status of — and possible solutions to — their country’s political crisis.
Namibia is usually regarded as one of the best performing democracies in Africa.Using the Afrobarometer Round 5 survey, this paper compares public attitudes that are central to democratic life across high performing countries in Africa. Several important survey questions pertaining to the demand for democracy, the supply of democracy, and the citizens’ role in democratic life will help in the comparison of democratic attitudes. In addition to Namibia, other countries usually at the top of democracy ratings will be included in the comparison to judge the consolidation of democratic values.
This briefing paper reviews Basotho’s support for key aspects of democracy including free association and freedom of the press, preference for democracy government and elected leaders hip, as well as citizens’ beliefs about government accountability and the separation of powers.
In December 2012, Ghana held its sixth multi-party elections under the Fourth Republic. Given this record and the subsequent esteem with which Ghana’s democracy is held, this paper seeks to examine the depth of both formal and participatory democracy in Ghana using Afrobarometer survey data. Furthermore, the paper will examine whether citizens’ quest to secure basic public service facilities and delivery in their communities democracy in Ghana.
This briefing paper intends to shed light on Ghanaian attitudes toward political accountability and assess the ordinary citizens’ role in this crucial part of the democratic process. In doing so, the paper draws from evidence from Round 5 of the Afrobarometer survey regarding five key aspects of political accountability - associational activity and local political participation; citizen engagement with the state; access to information; accountability and responsibility; and perceptions of corruption.
Africa’s transition to multiparty democracy has often been accompanied by a re-institutionalization of autocratic regimes and authoritarianism. This tension between the forces of progress and regression has become an enduring feature of Africa’s electoral and democratic transitions, a contradiction of more frequent elections and the consolidation of multipartyism accompanied by a reversal of democratic gains and the institutionalization of violence during elections. Elections and democracy have not always correlated strongly.
Namibia has been unique in its transition to democracy. This is illustrated in the formal role of the international community during the transition and in the expression of democratic values and practices measured by international indices including the Afrobarometer surveys. Looking specifically at the Afrobarometer data, the values of Namibians revealed in the surveys generally correspond to those of other surveyed countries.
How does poverty shape the prospects for consolidating democratic government?
Political analysts have long believed that sustaining democratic government in a poor society is harder than in a relatively wealthy one. This is a sobering thought for all those committed to democracy in Africa.
To explore the political dynamics of poverty, we use data from seven 1999-2000 Afrobarometer surveys in Southern Africa to develop an index of poverty and then test its impact on political attitudes and behaviours critical to democracy.
How do religious orientations, especially attachments to Islam, affect public support for democracy in sub-Saharan Africa?
Almost 15 years have passed since waves of democratization began to crash on African shores. Transitions to multiparty rule were often greeted with mass public celebration. But how long does any such political enthusiasm last? Are Africans’ expressed commitments to democracy enduring or ephemeral?
This paper argues that democratic commitments are not fixed. They tend to decline with the passage of time. But, more reassuringly, democratic commitments can be refreshed by an electoral alternation of power.
Africans value freedom of speech. In Afrobarometer surveys in a dozen African countries, people say that democracy requires that citizens are able to criticize the performance of governments. It seems reasonable to suppose that the liberty of individuals to express themselves evolves together with the emergence of a free press. This connection raises important questions. Does exposure to a plural mass media – or to other, informal modes of communication – promote popular democratic values? What happens to such values when governments control the media of mass communications?
Nearly 13 years ago, Ghana embarked on a peaceful transition to democratic governance. Popular enthusiasm and participation in highly competitive multiparty elections have since sustained that process. The third democratic elections in 2000 produced an alternation in office, with Mr. John Agyekum Kufuor of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) capturing the presidency from the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and his party winning a parliamentary majority. The NPP electoral victory was repeated in December 2004 with the party increasing its parliamentary majority as well.