Parliament of Uganda. Photo by Nicolas Bamulanzeki, photo journalist at Observer weekly newspaper, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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At a glance
Many Ugandans fear becoming victims of political intimidation or violence during elections.
A majority think that they have to be careful about what they say about politics and which political organisations they join, and that the freedom of the opposition to function is more constrained now than it was a few years ago.
Fear and experience of domestic insecurity are high.
Solid majorities say the armed forces keep the country safe and are professional and respectful to citizens.
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.
As Botswana approaches 2019 elections that will determine President Ian Khama’s successor and challenge the half-century rule of the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) a bill requiring the use of electronic voting machines has sparked increasing controversy.
At a glance
Trust: Most Malawians trust religious leaders and the Malawi Defence Force, but only about one in three trust the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC), the ruling party, or the president.
Democracy and freedoms: A majority of Malawians say their country is “not a democracy” or “a democracy with major problems.”
Just under half of South Africa's adult citizens think that the country's new system of local government is working well. Moreover, the level of popular approval varies sharply across provinces and may be declining over time. With reference to overall local government performance, rural residents are less likely to be satisfied than urban dwellers; and Blacks tend to be less satisfied than people of other races.
Later this year, after 12 years in office, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf will step down as president of Liberia and Africa’s first female head of state, having completed her maximum of two terms. Sirleaf, who came to power after decades of underdevelopment, tyranny, and civil conflict in Liberia, will leave a legacy that has won international acclaim – including the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize – for progress in rebuilding infrastructure, strengthening health care and education, helping to bring warlord Charles Taylor to justice, and seeing the country through the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic (Lane, 2016).
Three-fourths of Ugandans favour maintaining an age limit of 75 years for presidential candidates, a recent Afrobarometer survey shows.
How does civil war affect society and citizen interaction with politics? Civilians who live through warfare face numerous challenges that can have permanent effects on society even after peace is achieved.
This project uses the Liberian civil wars as a case study to examine the impact of war through one channel – disruptions in education for an entire generation of children. The paper shows that negative effects of war on education and economic outcomes clash with citizen expectations for post-war democracy, leading to negative consequences for the democratization process.
Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown remains an enormous challenge affecting citizens from all walks of life. The government’s 2009 introduction of various foreign currencies was welcomed by many Zimbabweans who, after years of hyperinflation, witnessed a stabilization in general consumer prices. But with lagging economic growth and a continuing drought, the country now faces deflation and has even experienced reverse urbanization due to a lack of opportunities in the cities (African Development Bank, 2016, 326).
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.
Ugandans overwhelmingly support proposed reforms aimed at improving Parliament and elections, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.
Almost all adult Ugandans support a call to improve electoral transparency, especially during vote tallying, transmission, and declaration. Similarly, huge majorities favour a national dialogue to resolve the political impasse following the 2016 elections, a reduction in the size of Parliament to save taxpayers money, and a tightening of laws on campaign financing and accountability.
At a glance
- Overwhelming public support for reform: Large majorities favour reform proposals designed to improve Parliament and elections.
- Cross-cutting support: Support for reform transcends political and demographic differences.
- Most popular reforms: Improving electoral transparency, reducing size of Parliament, and launching a national dialogue over 2016 elections are among the most strongly supported proposals.
In early 2016, five years after the beginning of the Arab Spring, the Economist (2016) reported that hopes raised by the uprisings had been destroyed. “The wells of despair are overflowing,” the newspaper said, the uprisings having brought “nothing but woe.” In addition to stagnant economic growth, rent-seeking was “rampant,” security forces continued to repress the population, and grounds were more fertile than ever for the emergence of radicals “who posit their own brutal vision of Islamic Utopia as the only solution.”
Following decades of authoritarian rule, multiparty democracy re-emerged in a “wave” of democratization in sub-Saharan Africa during the early 1990s. Twenty-nine countries in the region held founding elections – first competitive elections after an authoritarian period – between 1989 and 1994, of which 16 led to full democratic transitions (Bratton, 1997). Notable successes include Namibia (1989), Cape Verde (1991), Ghana (1992), and South Africa (1994), which a generation later are ranked among Africa’s politically “free” countries (Freedom House, 2016).
Politics is still largely a male domain. Gains in women’s political leadership have been real but not rapid (Ndlovu & Mutale, 2013). Globally, the share of national parliamentary seats held by women has nearly doubled over the past two decades, reaching 23% in 2016, but that still means that more than three out of four parliamentarians are men (UN Women, 2016a; World Bank, 2016a).
Kenyans regarded Corruption, Unemployment and Insecurity as the 3 most important problems they wanted addressed late last year, pushing down the Cost of Living which has featured prominently in recent years from among those at the top of the list.
Accountability is often described as a cornerstone of good governance, but a more accurate image might be a whole wheelbarrow of building blocks – the president, government agencies, Parliament, the judiciary, opposition parties, the media, and voters all holding one another accountable to form a foundation for democracy.
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Depuis 1988, les Guinéens ont progressivement retrouvé leur liberté d’adhérer à toute organisation politique de leur choix et de voter pour leur candidat. En 1990, il y a eu la consécration de ces libertés dans la constitution. Par la suite, le Conseil Transitoire de Redressement National (CTRN) a élaboré des projets de loi qui devaient permettre la formation de partis politiques indépendants, la tenue d'élections nationales, et la liberté de la presse. Les partis politiques furent légalisés en 1992.
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 these 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.
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.
Judging by media headlines, democracy appears to be under stress everywhere from leaders like Vladimir Putin in Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey, and Yoweri Museveni in Uganda. Yet social scientists know there is often a mismatch between what can be gleaned from news reports or social media and real, underlying trends. To take just one example, media attention to wars in Syria and Iraq suggests rising conflict around the world.
A report by South Africa’s Public Protector has triggered the latest scandal involving President Jacob Zuma and other state officials, who are accused of improper and unethical conduct in the awarding of state contracts. The report was released as the result of a High Court ruling (Times Live, 2016) and follows court cases related to the 1999 Arms Deal (Corruption Watch, 2014) and the misuse of state funds in the security upgrades of Zuma’s personal home in Nkandla (Mail & Guardian, 2016).
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According to Gabon’s national electoral commission and a subsequent Constitutional Court ruling, incumbent President Ali Bongo won re-election in August against challenger Jean Ping. His razor-thin and disputed victory margin relies in part on extraordinarily strong support and high voter turnout in the president’s home province, Haut-Ogooué. The officially announced results prompted protests in which several people died and many were arrested.
- 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.
Members of Parliament (MPs) and local government councillors are elected to represent their constituents. In a functioning democracy, these office-holders are expected to represent the public interest and to be accountable to those who elected them.
How well do African citizens think their elected representatives are fulfilling their roles? How do constituents perceive their political leaders’ integrity, their responsiveness, and their commitment to serving the public interest?