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Working paper

WP47: Democracy without democrats? Results from the 2003 Afrobarometer survey in Namibia

Christiaan Keulder and Tania Wiese 1 Apr 2005 Namibia
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Key findings
  • Despite the substantial number of Namibians who do not show outright preference for democracy, most Namibians are satisfied with democracy at the moment. They show an appreciation for the current regime over the previous (colonial) one and they think the quality of democracy is quite high.
  • The demand for democracy across the country is low. The demand for democracy increased from 1999 to 2002 and declined again to its lowest levels yet in 2003. The supply of democracy is much higher than the demand suggesting that Namibians “get more than they ask for.”
  • Namibians generally hold the state in much higher esteem than the democratic regime. They regard the state as legitimate and with sufficient capacity to enforce its laws. However, they are more cautious about their ability to solve problems
  • Finally, most Namibians are still mobilised through their partisanship and not through their own cognitive abilities. This implies an absence of large number of floating voters

Based on a national sample survey conducted in Namibia as part of Afrobarometer Round 2, this report finds that, even though democracy is yet to become consolidated at the attitudinal level, Namibia appears to be a “democracy without democrats.” Among the key findings supporting this proposition are the following:

  1. Only a slight majority of Namibians have a clear preference for democracy. A substantial number of Namibian citizens are supportive of possible non-democratic alternatives, especially a single-party polity;
  2. The demand for democracy across the country is low. The supply of democracy is much higher than the demand suggesting that Namibians “get more than they ask for;”
  3. Trust in government and state agencies has declined since 1999.
Christiaan Keulder

Christiaan is the national investigator for Namibia.

Tania Wiese

Tania Wiese is with the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), Windhoek, Namibia.