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News release

African democracy update: Democratic satisfaction remains elusive for many

11 Sep 2015
In observance of International Day of Democracy (September 15), Afrobarometer is releasing a new analysis indicating that the extent to which African countries put democratic ideals into practice varies widely across countries.

Key findings

  • On average across 28 countries, a slight majority (52%) of citizens perceive their country to be a full democracy (18%) or a democracy with only minor problems (34%). In 10 of the 28 countries, the more frequently expressed view is that the country is a democracy with major problems or not a democracy at all.
  • Compared to the previous round of surveys (Round 5, 2011-2013), satisfaction with democracy declined from 50% to 46% of citizens who say they are “very” or “fairly” satisfied. Satisfaction levels vary substantially across countries, from highs of 72% in Namibia and 68% in Botswana to lows of 26% in Togo and 11% in Madagascar.
  • Seven of 10 respondents say their most recent national elections were “completely free and fair” or “free and fair with minor problems.” About nine of 10 citizens in Mauritius (91%) and Senegal (87%) share this view, but only 46% of Ghanaians agree.

A bare majority (51%) of citizens say they are “completely free” to say what they think. Freedom of speech is perceived as most limited in Swaziland (where only 18% say they are completely free), Togo (26%), and Zimbabwe (27%). Citizens are somewhat more confident in their freedom of political association (61% completely free) and express relatively high confidence in their freedom to vote as they choose (73%).

Download the full press release.