AD257: Liberians endorse democracy but are dissatisfied with the way it’s working in their country

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Taa Wongbe and Marvin Samuel

Liberia’s recent presidential and legislative elections were widely considered a success and ushered in the country’s first peaceful democratic transition of power in 73 years. The National Democratic Institute’s election observation mission in Liberia called them “an historic achievement for the country and its citizens,” noting active voter-education campaigns, a strengthening of political parties, and improved transparency allowing citizens to observe various aspects of the electoral process (National Democratic Institute, 2018). The institute also credited former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s 12-year rule with having moved the country toward stability and helped to strengthen institutions necessary to build a culture of democracy in Liberia. 

Six months after the widespread excitement surrounding the elections, a national Afrobarometer survey found mixed perceptions of a democracy in evolution – strong support for democracy and elections but growing dissatisfaction with the way democracy is working, along with majority support for government restrictions on the media and on freedom of association.