With just a year to go until presidential and parliamentary elections in December 2019, electoral campaigning will soon get underway in Mauritius. Incumbents can tout a number of strengths. Mauritius ranks highly on many indicators of good governance and democracy, such as the Ibrahim Index of African Governance and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index, and past elections have generally been considered free and fair (Mo Ibrahim Foundation, 2017; Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017). Economic growth has been stable and diversification into high-value sectors a success (African Development Bank Group, 2018). And while a recent scandal surrounding purchases of luxury items by former President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim made headlines, the issue was swiftly resolved and GuribFakim stepped down (BBC, 2018; Deutsche Welle, 2018).
But if things look good on the surface, they are less than perfect in the eyes of the country’s citizens. Afrobarometer survey data collected in 2017 show that popular evaluations of the government’s performance have grown increasingly critical over the past half-decade. Large majorities see the government as doing a poor job on economic management, and even in areas where majorities offer praise – such as health care and education – popular approval is on a decline.
Overall, survey findings suggest that even if things aren’t bad, progress may not be keeping pace with citizens’ expectations.