Structural theories predict that the cues of social identity, particularly ethnicity, should exert a strong influence upon voting choices and party support in developing societies which are characterized by low levels of education and minimal access to the news media. To explore these issues, this study seeks to analyze the influence of ethno-linguistic and ethno-racial characteristics on identification with the governing party in a dozen African states.
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Eight years into South Africa's experiment with inclusive democracy, we look to the views of ordinary citizens -the ultimate consumers of what democratic governments supply- for perhaps the most conclusive assessment of the quality of democratic governance. In general, all South Africans are becoming more positive about the overall democratic regime, and more optimistic about where it will be in 10 years time.
The results of a 2001 national public opinion survey in Tanzania demonstrate significant public support for economic and political reform, but the legacy of 30 years of socialist one-party rule is evident as well. This report details patterns of public opinion that differ in important ways from those observed elsewhere in Africa, and that present several apparent paradoxes. First, while Tanzanians are very dissatisfied with the state of their national economy, they also display the highest levels of support for economic reform.
Botswana is the longest surviving democracy in Southern Africa, which others often seek to emulate. In order to observe popular satisfaction with democratization, an Afrobarometer survey was conducted in Botswana in 2000. The results reflect long-standing democratic values and the firm entrenchment of democratic institutions. Bastswana demonstrate their satisfaction with democracy and the legitimacy of the state, by claiming that the government exercises power within legal means and equally represents the interests of all citizens.
Lesotho has been governed in many different ways since its founding as a nation in the mid-19th century, including episodes of both democratic and authoritarian rule. This history is reflected in the ambivalence shown by Basotho in response to questions on an Afrobarometer questionnaire administered in early 2000. Almost half the sampled population were unable to define democracy, a figure higher than in any other southern African country.
Two decades of ZANU-PF rule has left Zimbabweans yearning for change. The survey revealed deep discontent with the democratic performance of the government and the management of the economy. Citizens overwhemingly reject one-man and one-party rule and clear majorities support democracy and prefer it to any other alternative. The constitutional reform exercise that coincided with the survey sowed seeds of hope at the time and helped to spur the current quest for change in the country.
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.
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.