All too often, the orientations of the general public towards political and economic change are unknown, undervalued or ignored. How do Africans understand democracy? Which aspects of good governance and structural adjustment do they support or reject? And how do they behave as citizens and as actors in civil society? The Afrobarometer seeks to answer these and many other, related questions. By giving voice to African citizens, it challenges the view that elites understand the preferences of “the people,” including minority groups within society.
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Malians have had a decade or more of experience with political and economic reforms. To what extent do they support these efforts, and why? Surveys reveal several unique characteristics of Malian public opinion relative to that in other countries studied. Malians retain a strong attachment to their cultural roots, and local politics and traditional leaders continue to shape political understandings more than national politics.
On 29 June 2000, Ugandans faced an historic choice. They went to the polls to select a form of government for their country. The referendum question asked citizens to choose between an existing movement system and a multiparty system. At stake in the vote was the popularity of the no-party political arrangements that have evolved in Uganda over the last fifteen years, bringing to the country a measure of stability and growth.
Less than a year after the inauguration of a new democratic government, the attitudes of Nigerians towards democracy and markets were tested in a national sample survey conducted in early 2000. The findings reveal a fervent attachment to democratic values in Nigeria, as well as a remarkably high assessments of the new regime’s performance. Whether these views reflect a durable consensus, or merely temporary “transition euphoria” that may yet be undermined by the difficulties of achieving real political and economic change remains to be seen.
Based on comparative analysis of original survey data from Ghana, Zambia and South Africa, this paper assesses the attitudes of African citizens towards democracy. Is democracy valued intrinsically (as an end in itself) or instrumentally (e.g., as a means to improving material living standards)? We find as much popular support for democracy in Africa as in other Third-Wave regions, but less satisfaction with the performance of elected governments.
One of the critical challenges facing African countries today is how to make governments work for the people – using resources at their disposal efficiently, delivering public goods and services, and guaranteeing an equitable distribution of opportunities and national income among citizens. In many places, systems of checks and balances have not lived up to expectations in making state institutions deliver such public goods. As a result, citizen participation in government oversight is now recognized as almost indispensable.
Malawians value Parliament’s legislative and oversight role but are highly critical of the performance of parliamentarians, according to the latest Afrobarometer survey.
The demand for, and satisfaction with, effective, accountable and clean government; judgments of overall governance performance and social service delivery.