BP98: The uses of the Afrobarometer in policy planning, program design and evaluation

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Briefing papers
Logan, Carolyn

This discussion explores some specific ways in which Afrobarometer data can contribute to policy-making and implementation processes. Although it cannot and should not be the only factor that determines policy outcomes, even in a democracy, information on what the public wants has often been missing from these processes altogether, when it should be at their center.  Diamond and Morlino (2005) identify responsiveness – a government that does what the people want – as the “essential result” of democracy.  Yet it tends to be one of the aspects of democracy in which Africa’s emerging democratic regimes remain most deficient (Logan and Mattes 2010).  And of course, it is not just governments that should care about what the public thinks.  Development practitioners both within and outside of government have to understand popular priorities if they are to design effective interventions, civic educators need to know what people do – and do not – understand about what it means to be a democracy, policy and pro-democracy advocates can use knowledge of public preferences to advance their causes, and political party leaders need to measure the public mood if they are to be effective in their strategies to win popular support.