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Key findings
  • Two-thirds (68%) of citizens prefer democracy over any other form of government, and large majorities disapprove of one-party rule (85%) and one-man rule (81%). Disapproval of military rule is less strong (60%) and has declined by 18 percentage points since 2008. Overall, demand for democracy stands at 37%, significantly below the average of 43% across 36 African countries surveyed in 2014/2015.
  • Eight in 10 Liberians (83%) support regular elections as the best way to choose their leaders, and a majority (58%) support multiparty competition.
  • Overwhelming majorities of Liberians say they feel free to choose whom to vote for (91%), to join any political organisation they wish (90%), and to say what they think (82%).
  • Three-fourths (77%) of citizens support the news media’s “watchdog” role, but they are about equally divided as to whether the media should have the freedom to publish whatever it wants or should be subject to government oversight. Support for media freedom has declined by 28 percentage points since 2008.
  • Liberians are quite critical of the extent and quality of their democracy. Only about half (53%) consider the country a “full democracy” or a “democracy with minor problems.” And the proportion of Liberians who rate their most recent national elections as “completely free and fair” or “free and fair, but with minor problems” has declined by 16 percentage points since 2008, to 54%. Half (50%) of all respondents say they are dissatisfied with how democracy is working in the country. Overall, perceived supply of democracy in Liberia is 35%, which matches the 36-country average.

After a decade of relative stability that has included two presidential elections, Liberia is looking ahead to its first post-war electoral leadership transition when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second term ends in 2017.

Less than a generation removed from civil war, the country is still rebuilding governance and economic structures, and the upcoming elections – which are already drawing candidates from more than 20 political parties – promise to put that progress to the test.

Afrobarometer survey findings suggest that Liberians can build on public support for democracy and its components, including support for regular and fair elections and multiparty competition, although overall demand for democracy is relatively weak compared to other African countries. About four in 10 Liberians consider their country “not a democracy” or “a democracy with major problems,” and half are dissatisfied with the way democracy is working in Liberia.

Mina Okuru

Mina Okuru is Afrobarometer communications coordinator for Anglophone West Africa,<br /> based at the Center for Democratic Development in Ghana.

Daniel Armah-Attoh

Daniel is the surveys manager for North and Anglophone West Africa