WP13: Citizen perceptions of democracy, governance, and political crisis in Lesotho

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Working papers
Gay, John and Thuso Green

Lesotho has been governed in many different ways since its founding as a nation in the mid-19th century, including episodes of both democratic and authoritarian rule. This history is reflected in the ambivalence shown by Basotho in response to questions on an Afrobarometer questionnaire administered in early 2000. Almost half the sampled population were unable to define democracy, a figure higher than in any other southern African country. Roughly half did not support democracy, and only slightly over half felt that the recent election was conducted in a proper way, figures which also diverged from the more positive experience with democracy of most other countries in the survey. Party affiliation is a major determinant of attitudes toward democracy, reflecting the polarization of the country after the contested 1998 election and the subsequent riots and destruction of buildings in major cities.