WP33: A new dawn? Popular optimism in Kenya after the transition

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Working papers
Wolf, Thomas P., Carolyn Logan, and Jeremiah Owiti, with Paul Kiage

The first Kenya Afrobarometer survey was conducted in August-September 2003, just eight months after the first electoral transfer of power in the country's history. This national sample survey included 2398 interviews in all eight provinces of the country. Overall, the survey findings clearly capture the palpable sense of almost unbounded optimism and hope that permeated Kenya in the days and months following the election.

On item after item, Kenyans give some of the most positive assessments of their government's performance, the quality of their democracy, and even the condition of the national economy, of any of the countries included in the Afrobarometer. They also stand out as having one of the highest levels of commitment to democracy and democratic institutions, and their confidence in a more bountiful future is overwhelming. But the obvious question is whether the goodwill and optimism measured in this survey, including especially the commitment to democracy as a system of rule (in contrast to mere support for the current government), demonstrate lasting, deeply-rooted democratic values along with careful assessments of the new government's performance, or merely reflect a much more transient, post-transition euphoria