BP105: Trends in popular attitudes to multiparty democracy in Africa, 2000-2012


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Briefing papers
Michael Bratton

To determine whether Africans want democracy, the Afrobarometer asks four related survey questions. The first item measures popular expressions of support for democracy; the remainder measure mass rejection of one-party, military and one-man rule. Taken together, these items form a scale of demand for democracy. The logic of the scale is that effective demand requires more than lip service to democracy; it also implies that people abandon attachments to old autocratic regimes.

Across twelve countries in 2012, some 79 percent of Afrobarometer respondents say that, “democracy is preferable to any other form of government”. Overt support is highest in countries commonly seen as liberal democracies with competitive party systems such as Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana and Cape Verde (all over 80 percent).
But support is also high in Tanzania (83 percent), an electoral democracy with de facto one-party dominance.