PP24: Trust in political institutions in Senegal: Why did it drop?

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Policy papers
Ibrahima Sall

The 2000 presidential elections were a turning point in the political trajectory of Senegal. After four decades of single-party and limited multi-party rule, the country’s first true political alternation handed power to Abdoulaye Wade and ushered Senegal into the ranks of stable democracies in Africa. President Wade won re-election, with a comfortable majority, in 2007.

Just one year later, however, public opinion survey results showed that citizens’ trust in Senegal’s president, Parliament, and local government had dropped dramatically. While trust levels rebounded in later surveys, 2008 serves as a case study of key factors that can undermine public trust in political institutions – an element of crucial importance for the consolidation of democracy. Drawing on data from Afrobarometer surveys, this analysis examines whether trust in political institutions is related to government performance, the economy and lived poverty, perceived corruption, interpersonal trust, and exposure to the news media.