WP20: Down to earth: Changes in attitudes toward democracy and markets in Nigeria


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Working papers
Lewis, Peter, Etannibi Alemika, and Michael Bratton

The second in a series of public opinion surveys in Nigeria on popular attitudes toward democracy and markets was conducted in August 2001. The findings indicate that in the 18 months since the first survey was conducted shortly after the 1999 transition to democracy, Nigerians have come "down to earth" in their assessments of the country's political conditions as post-transition euphoria has given way to greater political realism. Nigerians are less content with current political circumstances than they were 18 months earlier, and public satisfaction with democratic performance has diminished sharply. Nigerians are also less enthusiastic in their support for a democratic system, although levels of commitment still remain high, and a sizeable majority continues to reject non-democratic political alternatives, especially military rule. These changes indicate that Nigerians are coming to terms with the difficulties of democratic change, in contrast to the largely uncritical views expressed in the wake of the transition. Economic problems are uppermost among public concerns, and there are signs of increasing dissatisfaction with current policies. Negative views of economic performance appear to reduce satisfaction with the democratic system, although most Nigerians remain optimistic about economic prospects and patient with economic reform.