Democracy

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WP124: Understanding citizens attitudes to democracy in Uganda

After nearly 30 years of autocratic rule and civil war, Uganda returned to elective national government in 1996. But while elections resumed, political parties were allowed to exist but legally prevented from directly fielding candidates for those elections (Kasfir 1998). President Yoweri Museveni’s majority fell from 76 percent in 1996 to 69 percent in 2001. In 2005, the ruling party held a referendum in which the electorate overwhelmingly endorsed its proposal to return to formal multi-party politics.

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WP123: Democratizing the measurement of democratic quality: Public attitude data and the evaluation of African political regimes

Diamond and Morlino (2005) propose a quality of democracy framework that includes eight dimensions, but they suggest that only one of these – responsiveness ­­– is susceptible to measurement using public opinion data. However, we argue that citizen experiences and evaluations are essential pieces of data which may enable us to capture valid “insider” or “ground-up” measures of democratic procedures and substance that may be missed by expert judges and macro-level indicators. In this paper we develop indicators based on public attitude data for all eight dimensions of democracy.

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WP117: African perspectives on China-Africa: Gauging popular perceptions and their economic and political determinants

China ’s recent political and economic inroads into Africa have generated much excitement in the current literature, with scholars and policymakers endeavoring to assess the merits and risks implicit in this renewed engagement. Absent from the literature, however, are systematic analyses of African perceptions of the rapidly growing China-Africa links and their underlying determinants. This article fills this void by examining indeed not only African attitudes towards China ’s African presence, but deciphering the very considerations informing these views.

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WP113: Religious faith and democracy: Evidence from the Afrobarometer surveys

This paper takes advantage of Round 4 of the Afrobarometer surveys to explore the relationship between religion and democracy in Africa . It focuses on three central concerns. First, using a new, exogenous measure of religiosity in the survey, we find that African citizens who place importance on religion are also more trusting of their presidents and other compatriots, and they tend to take a greater interest in public affairs.

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WP110: Looking toward the future: Alternations in power and popular perspectives on democratic durability in Africa

Can democracy consolidate in electoral systems without power alternations? Using public attitude data collected by the Afrobarometer in 16 sub-Saharan African countries (2005-6), as well as country-level variables, this study examines how alternations in power resulting from electoral contests affect mass perceptions of the durability of democracy. Periodic alternation among power holders widens the pool of those who feel that they have a stake in the system, and reminds elected officials that they can be held accountable by voters.

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WP108: The quality of democracy and governance in Africa: New results from Afrobarometer Round 4

Since 1999, the Afrobarometer has conducted more than 105,000 interviews to collect data on the attitudes and behaviors of ordinary Africans in reforming polities and economies across the continent. One of the project’s key goals has been to open a window onto how average citizens understand their political, social and economic milieu. While we have often had a great deal of information on the attitudes and behaviors of African elites, the orientations of the general public towards political and economic change have, to a considerable extent, been unknown, undervalued and ignored. 

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WP104: Do free elections foster capable governments? The democracy-governance connection in Africa

Does democratization lead to improved governance? This exploratory paper addresses this question with reference to a cross-section of sub-Saharan African countries using macro, micro and trend data. The results show an elective affinity between free elections and improved governance. But any democracy advantage is more apparent in relation to some dimensions governance than others. For example, while elections apparently boost the rule of law and control of corruption, they also seem to undercut the transparency of government procedures and the responsiveness of elected officials.

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WP101: Frustration relative de démocratie en Afrique

Cet article propose trois indicateurs, notamment un indicateur de frustration relative individuel, un indicateur de frustration agrégé et un indicateur d’instabilité politique. Les données du troisième round des enquêtes du réseau Afro baromètre ont servi au calcul de ces indicateurs par pays. Les indicateurs de frustration agrégée et d’instabilité politique établissent une hiérarchie nettement prononcée entre les pays du panel pour ce qui est de leur non satisfaction et de leur propension à l’insurrection.

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WP93: Traditional leaders in modern Africa: Can democracy and the chief co-exist?

The role of traditional leaders in modern Africa, especially in modern African democracies, is complex and multifaceted. The debate is defined by “traditionalists” and “modernists.” Traditionalists regard Africa’s traditional chiefs and elders as the true representatives of their people, accessible, respected, and legitimate, and therefore still essential to politics on the continent. “Modernists,” by contrast, view traditional authority as a gerontocratic, chauvinistic, authoritarian and increasingly irrelevant form of rule that is antithetical to democracy.

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WP92: Ethnically dominated party systems and the quality of democracy: Evidence from sub-Saharan Africa

This paper is devoted to assessing whether and how the extent to which party systems are ethnicallydominated affects the quality of democracy. Using Afrobarometer survey data, we devise a new indexfor measuring levels of ethnic voting (CVELI) and statistically test its relationship to measures of thequality of democracy. From sub-Saharan Africa, we find evidence to suggest that the extent to whichparty systems are ethnically dominated does negatively affect certain measures of the quality ofdemocracy.

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WP88: Narrowing the legitimacy gap: The role of turnover in Africa's emerging democracies

Democratic consolidation depends on common perceptions of institutional legitimacy among citizens aligned with governing and opposition parties. Elections always result in winners and losers, but if they also create subservient insiders and aggrieved outsiders, the future of the democratic system will be uncertain. This paper theorizes about how various qualities of elections (turnover, peaceful, opposition party acceptance, and free and fair) should reduce winner–loser gaps in perceived institutional legitimacy.

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WP87: Young and old in sub-Saharan Africa: Who are the real democrats?

The assumption of modernization theory has always been that the young would be among those at the forefront of movements for political liberalization. To what extent does this assumption hold true? Do the youth in Africa have a better understanding of – and are they more committed to – democracy than their more mature counterparts? Will the youth occupy the frontlines in defence of democracy, while the elderly acquiesce more willingly to the authoritarian impulses of leaders?

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WP84: Quality of elections, satisfaction with democracy, and political trust in Africa

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.

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WP82: Democracy without people: Political institutions and citizenship in the New South Africa

South Africa is widely seen as a leading, if not paradigmatic, success story of the Third Wave of Democracy. This success is just as widely attributed to the country’s supposedly wise choice of new democratic institutions that averted ethnic civil war and induced all key contenders to buy into the new democratic dispensation.

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WP80: Political rights versus public goods: Uncovering the determinants of satisfaction

In democracies there is a trade-off between efficiency in the provision of public goods and the extent of political representation. Our paper shows how this trade-off plays out in translating intrinsic versus instrumental understandings of democracy into different levels of satisfaction with democratic outcomes. We use public opinion data in eighteen African countries to demonstrate that citizens who value democracy instrumentally report lower levels of satisfaction when fractionalization is high.

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WP79: Political transition, corruption, and income inequality in third wave democracies

The paper examines the effect of democratization on income inequality in third-wave democracies. Using data from the World Income Inequality Database, this paper will show that income inequality has risen sharply in almost every third-wave democracy. This paper attempts to explain why income inequality rises at much faster rates in developing nations vis-à-vis developed nations. The paper argue that the key to solving this puzzle lies in a better understanding of the patterns of democratization and the consequences of corruption in new democracies.

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WP75: Testing mechanisms of influence: Education and support for democracy in sub-Saharan Africa

Discussions of the social factors conducive to the emergence and survival of liberal democratic regimes in developing societies have generally emphasized modernization as a positive influence and more recently, certain religious traditions as negative influences. Within the modernization framework however recent decades have seen a move away from according education a central role in modernization accounts in favor of a focus on education as a marker of more purely economic, resource-based sources of political values.

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WP70: Kenyans and democracy: What do they really want from it anyway?

Between 2003 and 2005, satisfaction with “the way democracy works in Kenya” dropped a full 26 percentage points, plummeting from 79 percent in 2003, to just 53 percent by 2005. This does not appear to bode well for democracy in Kenya. But there are numerous practical and analytical questions about what “satisfaction with democracy” really means, what it measures, and whether it matters. Some analysts have argued that the very concept and meaning of satisfaction with democracy is ambiguous, and that the measure should be abandoned.

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WP68: Identity, institutions and democracy in Nigeria

Ethnicity is a central theme in the analysis of Nigerian politics. Conventional approaches to ethnic politics in Nigeria often assume the existence of stable identities and consistent group motives. It is also commonly asserted that Nigerian political behavior is driven by ethnic solidarities. Ethnic political parties, clientelism, and social polarization are all associated with strong communal allegiances. These practices are regarded as inherently corrosive to a plural democracy.

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WP67: Public opinion research in emerging democracies: Are the processes different?

The widespread collapse of authoritarian and totalitarian political systems that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall opened the possibility for the wider application of survey research in many countries in the developing world. At the same time, rapidly changing priorities of scientific funders, along with the newfound missions of aid agencies in democratic strengthening, led to an unprecedented proliferation of comparative survey research.

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WP66: Ethnic fractionalization, electoral institutions, and Africans’ political attitudes

How do electoral institutions interact with the ethnic fractionalization in shaping citizens’ attitudes towards their political systems? Using Afrobarometer survey data collected from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, along with contextual variables, this study demonstrates that electoral systems have differential effects on citizens’ attitudes about regime performance in various social contexts.

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WP64: Crime and support for democracy: Revisiting modernization theory

We revisit the literature on modernization theory and note that the theory posits that both increases in wealth and increases in crime rates accompany modernization. This fact is often ignored by much of the scholarship on democratization, which generally focuses on economic conditions. Using 2003 survey data from the Afrobarometer and the Latinbarometer, we examine how victimization and perceptions of crime influence citizens’ attitudes toward democracy.

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WP63: Voters but not yet citizens: The weak demand for vertical acountability in Africa's unclaimed democracies

Transitions to competitive, multiparty politics in African countries during the 1990s were jubilantly welcomed, both on the continent and internationally. Today, Africans enjoy unprecedented opportunities to vote, and many still revel in greater individual and political freedoms. But the full potential of democracy – including the promise of accountable governance – has yet to be fulfilled. Why has democracy – or, at least, multiparty elections – so far failed to secure better governance and greater accountability?

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WP60: Where is Africa going? Views from below: A compendium of trends in public opinion in 12 African countries, 1999-2006

Where is Africa going? This compendium summarizes both continental trends and divergent country directions. It is based on three rounds of Afrobarometer public opinion surveys, 1999-2006. Among the many original results are the following: Even though Africans increasingly worry about unemployment and food insecurity, they are politically patient; they are not ready to reject democracy simply because it may fail at economic delivery. And even though Africans consistently consider the economic present to be worse then the economic past, they see better times ahead.

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WP59: Popular reactions to state repression: Operation Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe

In May 2005, the Government of Zimbabwe launched Operation Murambatsvina (OM), a state-sponsored campaign to stifle independent economic and political activity in the country’s urban areas. This article employs a national probability sample survey to analyze the popular reactions of ordinary Zimbabweans to this landmark event. It shows that the application of state repression s쳮ds at some goals, fails at others, and has powerful unintended effects.

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WP57: Support for democracy in Malawi: Does schooling matter?

Education is assumed to be an important influence on citizens’ understanding and endorsement of democracy, but whether this occurs in newly democratic societies with relatively low levels of educational provision is less clear. This paper explores the effect of education on understandings of and support for democratic government in Malawi - paying particular attention to the consequences of primary schooling, which remains the modal experience of Malawian voters.

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WP56: Poor people and democratic citizenship in Africa

Recent political transitions around the world have cast doubt on arguments about the socioeconomic preconditions for democracy. A democratic political regime has long been regarded as an attribute of high-income, industrialized economies. Yet new scholarship has revised this law by observing that “third wave” democracies have been installed in both rich and poor countries. We can only do justice to this topic, however, by testing the same relationship at a micro-level. Are poor people any more or less attached to democracy than rich people?

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