Transitions to competitive, multiparty politics in African countries during the 1990s were jubilantly welcomed, both on the continent and internationally. Today, Africans enjoy unprecedented opportunities to vote, and many still revel in greater individual and political freedoms. But the full potential of democracy – including the promise of accountable governance – has yet to be fulfilled. Why has democracy – or, at least, multiparty elections – so far failed to secure better governance and greater accountability?
We revisit the literature on modernization theory and note that the theory posits that both increases in wealth and increases in crime rates accompany modernization. This fact is often ignored by much of the scholarship on democratization, which generally focuses on economic conditions. Using 2003 survey data from the Afrobarometer and the Latinbarometer, we examine how victimization and perceptions of crime influence citizens’ attitudes toward democracy.
How do electoral institutions interact with the ethnic fractionalization in shaping citizens’ attitudes towards their political systems? Using Afrobarometer survey data collected from 15 sub-Saharan African countries, along with contextual variables, this study demonstrates that electoral systems have differential effects on citizens’ attitudes about regime performance in various social contexts.
The widespread collapse of authoritarian and totalitarian political systems that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall opened the possibility for the wider application of survey research in many countries in the developing world. At the same time, rapidly changing priorities of scientific funders, along with the newfound missions of aid agencies in democratic strengthening, led to an unprecedented proliferation of comparative survey research.
Ethnicity is a central theme in the analysis of Nigerian politics. Conventional approaches to ethnic politics in Nigeria often assume the existence of stable identities and consistent group motives. It is also commonly asserted that Nigerian political behavior is driven by ethnic solidarities. Ethnic political parties, clientelism, and social polarization are all associated with strong communal allegiances. These practices are regarded as inherently corrosive to a plural democracy.
Between 2003 and 2005, satisfaction with “the way democracy works in Kenya” dropped a full 26 percentage points, plummeting from 79 percent in 2003, to just 53 percent by 2005. This does not appear to bode well for democracy in Kenya. But there are numerous practical and analytical questions about what “satisfaction with democracy” really means, what it measures, and whether it matters. Some analysts have argued that the very concept and meaning of satisfaction with democracy is ambiguous, and that the measure should be abandoned.
This paper evaluates the extent to which expressive voting can explain Malawi’s regional census. Specifically, are Malawians who hold regional identities more likely to be regional partisans than Malawians who identify differently?
Discussions of the social factors conducive to the emergence and survival of liberal democratic regimes in developing societies have generally emphasized modernization as a positive influence and more recently, certain religious traditions as negative influences. Within the modernization framework however recent decades have seen a move away from according education a central role in modernization accounts in favor of a focus on education as a marker of more purely economic, resource-based sources of political values.
The paper examines the effect of democratization on income inequality in third-wave democracies. Using data from the World Income Inequality Database, this paper will show that income inequality has risen sharply in almost every third-wave democracy. This paper attempts to explain why income inequality rises at much faster rates in developing nations vis-à-vis developed nations. The paper argue that the key to solving this puzzle lies in a better understanding of the patterns of democratization and the consequences of corruption in new democracies.
In democracies there is a trade-off between efficiency in the provision of public goods and the extent of political representation. Our paper shows how this trade-off plays out in translating intrinsic versus instrumental understandings of democracy into different levels of satisfaction with democratic outcomes. We use public opinion data in eighteen African countries to demonstrate that citizens who value democracy instrumentally report lower levels of satisfaction when fractionalization is high.
South Africa is widely seen as a leading, if not paradigmatic, success story of the Third Wave of Democracy. This success is just as widely attributed to the country’s supposedly wise choice of new democratic institutions that averted ethnic civil war and induced all key contenders to buy into the new democratic dispensation.
The assumption of modernization theory has always been that the young would be among those at the forefront of movements for political liberalization. To what extent does this assumption hold true? Do the youth in Africa have a better understanding of – and are they more committed to – democracy than their more mature counterparts? Will the youth occupy the frontlines in defence of democracy, while the elderly acquiesce more willingly to the authoritarian impulses of leaders?
Democratic consolidation depends on common perceptions of institutional legitimacy among citizens aligned with governing and opposition parties. Elections always result in winners and losers, but if they also create subservient insiders and aggrieved outsiders, the future of the democratic system will be uncertain. This paper theorizes about how various qualities of elections (turnover, peaceful, opposition party acceptance, and free and fair) should reduce winner–loser gaps in perceived institutional legitimacy.
This paper is devoted to assessing whether and how the extent to which party systems are ethnicallydominated affects the quality of democracy. Using Afrobarometer survey data, we devise a new indexfor measuring levels of ethnic voting (CVELI) and statistically test its relationship to measures of thequality of democracy. From sub-Saharan Africa, we find evidence to suggest that the extent to whichparty systems are ethnically dominated does negatively affect certain measures of the quality ofdemocracy.
The role of traditional leaders in modern Africa, especially in modern African democracies, is complex and multifaceted. The debate is defined by “traditionalists” and “modernists.” Traditionalists regard Africa’s traditional chiefs and elders as the true representatives of their people, accessible, respected, and legitimate, and therefore still essential to politics on the continent. “Modernists,” by contrast, view traditional authority as a gerontocratic, chauvinistic, authoritarian and increasingly irrelevant form of rule that is antithetical to democracy.
Cet article propose trois indicateurs, notamment un indicateur de frustration relative individuel, un indicateur de frustration agrégé et un indicateur d’instabilité politique. Les données du troisième round des enquêtes du réseau Afro baromètre ont servi au calcul de ces indicateurs par pays. Les indicateurs de frustration agrégée et d’instabilité politique établissent une hiérarchie nettement prononcée entre les pays du panel pour ce qui est de leur non satisfaction et de leur propension à l’insurrection.
Does democratization lead to improved governance? This exploratory paper addresses this question with reference to a cross-section of sub-Saharan African countries using macro, micro and trend data. The results show an elective affinity between free elections and improved governance. But any democracy advantage is more apparent in relation to some dimensions governance than others. For example, while elections apparently boost the rule of law and control of corruption, they also seem to undercut the transparency of government procedures and the responsiveness of elected officials.
Since 1999, the Afrobarometer has conducted more than 105,000 interviews to collect data on the attitudes and behaviors of ordinary Africans in reforming polities and economies across the continent. One of the project’s key goals has been to open a window onto how average citizens understand their political, social and economic milieu. While we have often had a great deal of information on the attitudes and behaviors of African elites, the orientations of the general public towards political and economic change have, to a considerable extent, been unknown, undervalued and ignored.
Africa is the poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world. Among many political and social consequences, poverty and the lack of infrastructure place significant limitations on the cognitive skills of ordinary Africans, and thus their ability to act as full democratic citizens.
Can democracy consolidate in electoral systems without power alternations? Using public attitude data collected by the Afrobarometer in 16 sub-Saharan African countries (2005-6), as well as country-level variables, this study examines how alternations in power resulting from electoral contests affect mass perceptions of the durability of democracy. Periodic alternation among power holders widens the pool of those who feel that they have a stake in the system, and reminds elected officials that they can be held accountable by voters.
This paper takes advantage of Round 4 of the Afrobarometer surveys to explore the relationship between religion and democracy in Africa . It focuses on three central concerns. First, using a new, exogenous measure of religiosity in the survey, we find that African citizens who place importance on religion are also more trusting of their presidents and other compatriots, and they tend to take a greater interest in public affairs.
After nearly 30 years of autocratic rule and civil war, Uganda returned to elective national government in 1996. But while elections resumed, political parties were allowed to exist but legally prevented from directly fielding candidates for those elections (Kasfir 1998). President Yoweri Museveni’s majority fell from 76 percent in 1996 to 69 percent in 2001. In 2005, the ruling party held a referendum in which the electorate overwhelmingly endorsed its proposal to return to formal multi-party politics.
China ’s recent political and economic inroads into Africa have generated much excitement in the current literature, with scholars and policymakers endeavoring to assess the merits and risks implicit in this renewed engagement. Absent from the literature, however, are systematic analyses of African perceptions of the rapidly growing China-Africa links and their underlying determinants. This article fills this void by examining indeed not only African attitudes towards China ’s African presence, but deciphering the very considerations informing these views.
Efforts to do comparative research on political attitudes have been complicated by varying understandings of “democracy.” The Afrobarometer is exploring new techniques to overcome this difficulty.
Diamond and Morlino (2005) propose a quality of democracy framework that includes eight dimensions, but they suggest that only one of these – responsiveness – is susceptible to measurement using public opinion data. However, we argue that citizen experiences and evaluations are essential pieces of data which may enable us to capture valid “insider” or “ground-up” measures of democratic procedures and substance that may be missed by expert judges and macro-level indicators. In this paper we develop indicators based on public attitude data for all eight dimensions of democracy.
In 1994, the combined prospects of rapid demographic change and a radically changed political system held out the promise of rapid movement toward a transformed citizenry, based primarily on an emerging post-apartheid generation imbued with the values of the new South African citizen. But as far as popular demand for democracy goes, the post-apartheid generation is less committed to democracy than their parents or grandparents.
Barrington Moore’s famous line “no bourgeoisie, no democracy” is one of the most quoted claims in political science. But has the rise of the African middle class promoted democratic consolidation? This paper uses the case of Kenya to investigate the attitudes and behaviours of the middle class. Analysis of Afrobarometer survey data reveals that the middle class is more likely to support the opposition and hold pro-democratic attitudes.
South Africa has seen a significant increase in the size of its black middle class in the post-apartheid period, but the attitudinal consequences of indicators of the middle class, as of 2011, are inconsistent and modest in size. While members of the middle class are no more likely to hold democratic values than other black South Africans, they are more likely to want government to secure higher-order, rather than basic, survival needs.
A large literature examining advanced and consolidating democracies suggests that education increases political participation. However, in electoral authoritarian regimes, educated voters may instead deliberately disengage. If education increases critical capacities, political awareness, and support for democracy, educated citizens may believe that participation is futile or legitimates autocrats. We test this argument in Zimbabwe – a paradigmatic electoral authoritarian regime – by exploiting cross-cohort variation in access to education following a major educational reform.
Where are African countries headed politically? How resilient are Africa’s governments, regimes, and states? What are the characteristics of political risk? This paper is motivated by a desire to discover whether it is possible to identify early-warning indicators of risk to African political systems. We suggest that Afrobarometer survey data may be used to systematically track trends in mass political support – such as approval for incumbent governments, satisfaction with political regime performance, and the popular legitimacy of state institutions.