All eyes on Kenya: Will the election continue the country’s democratic recovery?

How much of a democracy is Kenya? | 2003-2016

If Kenyans – and their friends around the world – are holding their breath for Tuesday’s election, it’s not just to find out who will win, but also to see whether the country’s democracy manages to continue its decade-long recovery.

Based on Afrobarometer Round 7 data, Kenyans surveyed last October were approaching this election campaign with increasingly positive feelings about their democracy and elections, recovering slowly but surely from the disastrous aftermath of the 2007 campaign.

A successful election on Tuesday could help continue that upward trend – if widespread fears of intimidation or violence prove unfounded.

Key findings

▪ Almost two-thirds (63%) of Kenyans said they considered their country “a full democracy” or “a democracy with minor problems,” an improvement of 20 percentage points from responses in 2008 and 2011 (Figure 1).

▪ A majority (56%) said they were “fairly satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the way democracy was working in Kenya, up from 42% in 2008 (Figure 2).

▪ More than six in 10 (62%) considered the most recent national election (in 2013) completely or mostly free and fair – three times the proportion who held this view in 2008 (20%) (Figure 3).

▪ Still, a majority (56%) said they feared election-related intimidation or violence “somewhat” or “a lot” – a modest improvement from 2008 that may have been undermined by recent events (Figure 4).

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