Africans want high-quality elections – especially if they bring change, Afrobarometer surveys show

Most Africans support democratic elections as the best way to choose their leaders – if they see their previous elections as free and fair, and especially if those elections produced a change in leadership, new Afrobarometer survey data show.

In the seventh of its Pan-Africa Profiles series based on recent public-opinion surveys in 34 African countries, Afrobarometer reports that popular support for elections is driven by the perceived freedom and fairness of the balloting process. And the strongest evidence of a free and fair election is a change in ruling party.

“Simply stated, Africans support elections to the extent that these contests are seen to bring about desired political change,” the analysis concludes.

The new report, available at, indicates that while popular support for elections and assessments of election quality vary widely across countries and over time, a majority of Africans – both opposition-party and ruling-party supporters – have consistently seen their elections as generally free and fair.