Among both scholars and visitors, Cape Verde is typically labeled an African exception. Since independence, the island nation has had no wars; its levels of corruption and urban violence are low by African standards; and power has alternated between two parties. The peaceful and negotiated nature of Cape Verde’s transition to and practice of democracy is a distinct trait of Capeverdean politics. Another distinct trait is the existence of political parties based not on tribal or ethnic rivalries but on different views about how the economy should be handled and how social problems should be attacked. Given this distinctive background, how do Capeverdeans see democracy and economic reform? Does its unusual history lead to the formation of values and beliefs that also differentiate Capeverdeans from citizens in other recently democratized countries?
The results of a first Afrobarometer survey of public attitudes on these and related issues, conducted in June 2002, reveal some distinctive patterns in Capeverdeans’ political attitudes. First, the population is divided. About two-thirds express both diffuse support for democracy – i.e., a belief in the legitimacy of the democratic regime – and specific support for the actual performance of the country’s political institutions. But the other one-third has consistently been both extremely critical of the government, and is open to changes in the political regime. In comparison to other countries, Cape Verde does not differ in the levels of support for democracy, but it does differ with regard to satisfaction: Capeverdeans appear to be more critical of their regime than other Africans.Conflict