In a democracy, elected local and parliamentary representatives are critical channels through which citizens’ views and preferences can impact local and national policies. They are also important conduits for disseminating information about government actions to the grass roots.
This paper asks whether a country’s choice of electoral system affects the methods citizens use to try to hold their government accountable. A large body of literature suggests that electoral system type has an impact on voting behaviour, but little work has been done on its effects on other strategies for democratic accountability, such as contacting an elected representative and protesting. Using data from 36 African countries, we find that the type of electoral system has a significant relationship with these forms of participation.
“Trail-blazing” describes the work of Zimbabwe’s Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI), and not just because its teams brave flooded-out bridges to reach respondents in all corners of the country.
While personal insecurity in Africa is typically associated with civil wars, crime is actually a far more common threat to the continent’s citizens. Rates of homicide, sexual assault, and property crime in Africa are often far higher than global averages. Despite such threats, many Africans do not report crimes to the police.
In this paper, we provide evidence on how the provision of social infrastructure such as reliable electricity can be leveraged to increase taxation in developing countries, particularly sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). First, using comprehensive data from the latest round of the Afrobarometer survey, we estimate, via the instrumental variable approach, the effect of access and reliability of electricity on tax compliance attitudes of citizens in 36 SSA countries.
In addition to the growing number of African states that conduct regular elections and embed democratic principles in their constitutions, evidence comes from survey-based research that most Africans support democratic values and reward governments that adhere to democratic rules (Mattes & Bratton, 2007; Bratton & Mattes, 2001). However, in many countries, citizen demand for democracy is not met by supply of democracy (Mattes & Bratton, 2016) as governments, once elected, fail to respect the norms of democratic governance (Gyimah-Boadi, 2015).
The role and capacities of the military are critical elements of a modern state. In functional democracies, the military’s institutional boundaries are tightly prescribed, excluding it from the political arena. It must be both trusted and adequately resourced to effectively discharge its mandate of protecting the country from external and internal threats.
Round 7 questionnaire for Zimbabwe.
Information is the lifeblood of political accountability. Without reliable, timely information, citizens are unable to evaluate and constructively engage with what their government is doing. If such information is absent, willfully denied, physically inaccessible, or not available in a format that is understandable to users, public accountability is undermined (ANSA-EAP, 2017).
Despite audience gains for television and digital media, radio is still by far the most frequent information source for Africans, a new Afrobarometer analysis suggests.
Released on the occasion of World Radio Day (13 February), the analysis is based on Afrobarometer surveys in eight African countries in 2017.
While radio still leads the pack, a previous Afrobarometer report shows television, the Internet, and social media gaining ground.
In any economy, balancing expenditures, revenues, and debts is a delicate and often politicized task. Competing interests and priorities buffet those tasked with planning a viable and stable national budget. For any state, taxes raised from individuals and businesses are a central plinth supporting the provision of services, the maintenance of infrastructure, the employment of civil servants, and the smooth functioning of the state.
Because of a perceived risk of repressive action, some survey questions are likely sensitive in more autocratic countries while less so in more democratic countries. Yet survey data on potentially sensitive topics are frequently used in comparative research despite concerns about comparability.
Zimbabwe’s political crisis will play out against a backdrop of substantial public trust in the army but a clear rejection of military rule in favour of democracy.
Almost two-thirds of Zimbabweans said in an Afrobarometer survey in January-February 2017 that they trust the army at least “somewhat.” But even more said they disapprove of military rule and prefer democracy over any other political system.
Importantly, respondents overwhelmingly said they feel “not very free” or “not at all free” to criticize the army.
At a glance
Most important problems: Zimbabweans cite unemployment as the most important problem facing citizens that the government has to address.
Performance approval of elected leaders: A majority approves of President Mugabe’s performance over the past 12 months.
Support for grand coalition: Almost half of adult Zimbabweans support the idea of a grand coalition ahead of the harmonised elections.
The widely-discussed idea of a grand coalition of Zimbabwe’s opposition parties to improve their chances of defeating the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union–Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) in next year’s elections has powerful support among partisans of the main opposition party, Afrobarometer’s most recent survey shows.
At a glance
Overall direction of the country: A majority of Zimbabweans think the country is heading in the wrong direction.
Trust in leaders: Zimbabweans generally trust their leaders and key institutions except for opposition and government’s revenue collection agency (ZIMRA).
Incidence of lived poverty: Shortage of cash continues to be a major challenge for Zimbabweans across all walks of life.
Almost three-fourths of adult Zimbabweans trust religious leaders and non-governmental organisations the most in the country. The least trusted institutions are the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and opposition political parties. This data is from the latest Afrobarometer survey and is being released at a time when there is a proliferation of church organisations and much intra-party fights among the opposition political parties in Zimbabwe ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.
A majority of Zimbabweans are pessimistic about the overall direction that the country is according to the most recent Afrobarometer survey. This data shows that perceptions of the country’s direction are determined by a number of demographic variables including gender, urban or rural location, education and province.
A huge majority of adult Zimbabweans say the government is performing badly in terms of creating jobs, according to the most recent Afrobarometer survey. Asked to rate the performance of the government on 18 different performance majorities, citizens also negatively rate government performance in many other areas such as maintenance of roads and bridges, narrowing income gaps, fighting corruption and improving the living standards of the poor.
In most African countries, substantial barriers still inhibit citizens’ access to justice, a new Afrobarometer analysis finds.
Based on a special access-to-justice module in national surveys in 36 African countries, the sobering report identifies long delays, high costs, corruption, the complexity of legal processes, and a lack of legal counsel as major obstacles for citizens seeking legal remedies.
Dozens of African countries regularly conduct national and local elections.
Each election picks a winner.
But beyond winners and losers, the quality of each election also shapes how people feel about their political system in general.
Free and fair elections make people want more democracy.
Elections tainted by repression, fraud, or violence have the opposite effect.
So how good are Africa’s elections?
Afrobarometer surveyed more than 53,000 citizens in 36 countries, in every region of Africa.
A decade-long upward trend in African citizens’ demand for democracy has ended with a downward turn since 2012, according to a new Afrobarometer analysis.
But despite warning signs of a democratic recession, public demand for democracy remains higher than a decade ago, and most Africans still say they want more democracy than they’re actually getting – a good basis for future democratic gains.
One important factor: the quality of elections. African countries with high-quality elections are more likely to show increases in popular demand for democracy.
- On average across 36 African countries, China is the second-most-popular model for national development (cited by 24% of respondents), trailing only the United States of America (30%). About one in 10 respondents prefer their former colonial power (13%) or South Africa (11%) as a model.
Kim Yi Dionne is Five College Assistant Professor of Government at Smith College. She studies identity, public opinion, political behavior, and policy aimed at improving the human condition, with a focus on African countries.
- Across 36 African countries, fewer than half of respondents say they trust their MPs (48%) and local councillors (46%) “somewhat” or “a lot.” Among 12 public institutions and leaders, MPs and local councillors rank eighth and ninth in public trust.
Only half of Africans trust their national electoral commissions, and many fear violence and unfair practices during election campaigns, according to a new report by Afrobarometer.
- Across 36 countries in 2014/2015, Africans express more trust in informal institutions such as religious and traditional leaders (72% and 61% respectively) than in the formal executive agencies of the state (on average 54%).
- That said, people find certain executive agencies, such as the national army and the state presidency, to be quite trustworthy (64% and 57% respectively), especially when compared with legislative and electoral institutions (47% and 44% respectively).
Political and civic engagement by African youth is declining and is particularly weak among young women, according to new Afrobarometer survey findings.
The findings, which are being released on International Youth Day 2016 (August 12), show African youth are less likely than their elders to engage in a variety of political and civic activities, including voting, attending community meetings, joining others to raise an issue, and contacting leaders. Young women express significantly less interest in public affairs than young men.
For advocates of regional integration as a path toward economic and political power for Africa, Afrobarometer’s latest survey findings suggest that many citizens still need to be convinced of the benefits of integration.