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Briefing paper

BP144: The perils and complexity of democratic values in Namibia

17 Apr 2015
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Namibia has been unique in its transition to democracy. This is illustrated in the formal role of the international community during the transition and in the expression of democratic values and practices measured by international indices including the Afrobarometer surveys. Looking specifically at the Afrobarometer data, the values of Namibians revealed in the surveys generally correspond to those of other surveyed countries. However, Namibia is an “outlier”, with responses on certain key questions differing greatly from the responses of other countries. Based on the 2012 Afrobarometer survey, Namibians perceive a significant extent of democracy in the country and have expressed a high satisfaction with the democracy they experience. Yet, Namibians appear to have a weak demand for democracy. In 2002 this uniqueness led Keulder and Wiese (2005) to proclaim Namibia a “democracy without democrats” because the supply of democracy by the government and the ruling party far exceeded the demand for democracy expressed by Namibians