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AD234: Trust in institutions, evaluations of government performance decline in Cabo Verde

Cláudio Alves Furtado and Jose Antonio Vaz Semedo 5 Sep 2018 Cabo Verde
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Key findings
  • Popular trust declined from 2014 levels for most institutions. The armed forces continue to be the most trusted institution among Cabo Verdeans (62%), followed by the courts (55%) and police (53%). Elective institutions are less trusted: Fewer than half of Cabo Verdeans express trust in the president of the Republic (49%) and the prime minister (43%), while local government councils rank near the bottom with political parties.
  • Popular job-performance ratings remain unchanged since 2014 for most key public officials, including less-than-shining evaluations for National Assembly members (44% approval), mayors (48%), and local government councillors (40%). An exception is the prime minister, whose approval rating rose from 58% in 2014 to 77%, surpassing the president’s (67%) for the first time.
  • Large majorities of citizens say the government is performing “fairly badly” or “very badly” on economic issues, including creating jobs (84%), reducing the gap between rich and poor (79%), improving the living conditions of the poor (76%), keeping prices stable (70%), and managing the economy (59%). On all of these indicators, 2017 ratings are worse than those given in 2014.
  • Large majorities also give the government negative ratings on ensuring that everyone has enough to eat (74%), fighting corruption in government (61%), and reducing crime (60%).
  • The most important problems that Cabo Verdeans want government to address are unemployment (84%), crime/insecurity (32%), and poverty (31%).

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For 15 years after independence, Cabo Verde’s one-party regime did not allow for the evaluation of politicians by citizens. The establishment of a democratic regime from 1991 onwards birthed a new form of relationship between elected leaders and voters. Electoral promises created high public expectations that the democratic regime would solve the country’s problems and improve the living conditions of the population.

After an initial period of enthusiasm and goodwill, political leaders’ difficulties in responding to problems such as unemployment, insecurity, and corruption have made the manifestation of public discontent a recurring theme among opposition politicians, in the media, and among civil society organizations (Furtado, 2014, 2015).

Recent Afrobarometer survey findings continue this theme, showing a decline in popular trust in key institutions. A majority of Cabo Verdeans are also displeased with the government’s performance on job creation, food security, crime, corruption, and other issues. However, appraisals of government performance are more positive with regard to road maintenance and the provision of electricity service, and the prime minister’s job-performance rating has improved dramatically, surpassing the president’s.

Cláudio Furtado

Cláudio Alves Furtado is a sociologist and professor at the University of Cabo Verde.

Jose Semedo

Jose Semedo is the national investigator for Cabo Verde