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Key findings
  • Crime and security top the list of important problems that Malagasy want the government to address, cited by 43% of respondents as one of their top three priorities. About one in four rank infrastructure/roads (27%), food shortages (24%), and agriculture (23%) among the nation’s most important problems.
  • Compared to 2014, management of the economy and food shortages have increased most sharply in popular prioritization of problems that must be addressed.
  • Over the past decade, citizens’ assessments of the government’s performance on reducing crime have worsened considerably. Three-fourths (76%) of Malagasy now say the government is doing “fairly badly” or “very badly” on crime reduction, compared to 42% in 2008.
  • Four out of 10 Malagasy (40%) say their personal safety has become “worse” or “much worse” over the past few years, especially in urban areas (47%) and among the poor (47%).
  • Almost nine out of 10 citizens (88%) say the government is doing a poor job of ensuring that everyone has enough to eat. Six out of 10 (61%) say they or someone in their family went without enough food at least “several times” during the past year, and among the poorest respondents, more than nine out of 10 (94%) report having experienced food shortages.

Earlier this year, political tensions in Madagascar threatened to boil over when President Rajaonarimampianina tried to push through election reforms that opposition candidates said in effect blocked them from running (Trevor, 2018; Rabary, 2018; Bozzini, 2018; Manaleng, 2018)). Thousands protested against the change, at least two demonstrators were killed, the Constitutional Court stepped in, and a “consensus government” scrapped significant sections of the controversial proposal and announced elections for November and December of this year (Economist, 2018; News24, 2018; AfricaNews, 2018).

As frontrunners among the 36 presidential candidates – a virtual who’s who of the country’s recent political history – prepared for an expected runoff election in December, which issues are ordinary Malagasy likely to emphasize in their election decisions, and which policy areas will they expect the new government to prioritize?

Findings from the latest Afrobarometer survey show that crime/safety is the most important issue that Malagasy want their government to address. Popular assessments of the government’s performance on reducing crime have declined sharply over the past decade, and many citizens feel less safe than in the past.

Citizens also prioritize infrastructure/roads, food security, unemployment, and the economy – all areas in which government performance receives overwhelmingly poor marks.

Thomas Isbell

Post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant at Afrobarometer