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Key findings
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of Malians “approve” or “strongly approve” of the president’s job performance, though that is down from 71% in 2014. Similar proportions approve of the performance of their National Assembly members (65%) and local government councillors (63%).
  • However, large majorities of Malians say the government has performed “fairly badly” or “very badly” on priority issues, including keeping prices stable (79%), narrowing income gaps (78%), improving living standards of the poor (75%), creating jobs (74%), and ensuring that people have enough to eat (66%)
  • Most Malians say that elections are the best way to choose leaders (81%) and that past national elections were mostly free and fair (76%). But only half (51%) trust the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
  • While a majority (58%) of respondents support multiparty competition, about half say that it “often” or “always” leads to violent conflict (51%) and express at least “a little” fear of becoming a victim of political intimidation or violence during election campaigns (48%).
  • Overall, two-thirds (67%) of Malians support democracy, but only 37% say they are “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the way democracy is working

Much of the rhetoric ahead of Mali’s national elections in July has focused on security and reunification in the face of a continuing armed rebellion in the North (Bekow, 2018). Perhaps less obviously, the stakes are also high when it comes to what Malians demand from their government and their democracy.

Malians’ highest priorities, according to 2017 survey findings, are food security, good governance, access to health services and water, poverty alleviation, and economic growth (Coulibaly, 2018). As of February 2017, citizens gave the government negative grades on most of these issues.

In tandem with declining performance ratings for the government, Malians expressed increasing dissatisfaction with their democracy. Although general support for democracy, elections, and government accountability appeared solid, citizens had considerable reservations about multiparty competition, the electoral commission, their security during election campaigns, and the way their democracy is functioning.

While these do not predict voting priorities and intentions, they do suggest that the upcoming elections could prove pivotal in how Malians view democracy and its benefits to their quality of life.

Fadimata Haïdara

Fadimata Haïdara is an economist from the University of Stuttgart-Hohenheim (Germany) and is affiliated with GREAT in Mali.

Thomas Isbell

Thomas was formerly capacity building manager (advanced analysis track)<br /> for Afrobarometer.