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AD491: Most Gambians value elections, but fewer trust the institution that manages them

On 4 December 2021, Gambians will head to the polls in their first presidential election since the end of Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year dictatorship. Incumbent Adama Barrow, who shockingly defeated Jammeh in 2016 with the backing of seven opposition parties (BBC, 2016), is seeking re-election at the head of his new National People’s Party (Fatty, 2021; Muntagadura, 2021).


Some Africans — but not all —are happy with the quality of their elections.

The fourth in Afrobarometer’s special democracy summit series on Africa.


Originally published on the Washington Post Monkey Cage blog, where our regular Afrobarometer series explores Africans’ views on democracy, governance, quality of life, and other critical topics.


By Carolyn Logan and Fredline M'Cormack-Hale



AD453: Mauritians’ assessment of election quality took a hit in 2019

In November 2019, Mauritians conducted their 11th general election since independence in 1968, handing the ruling Militant Socialist Movement a clear victory and Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth a five-year term. In the Economist Intelligence Unit (2019) Democracy Index that followed in early 2020, Mauritius ranked as a “full democracy,” 18th worldwide and No. 1 in Africa.


Most Ugandans said losing side should accept election results and move on, but many considered protests justified

For Ugandans who disagreed with the official results of the 2021 election, the response that most of their compatriots considered justified was to accept the results and move on, Afrobarometer survey findings show.

But close to half of Ugandans said protesting would be a justifiable response as well.


Most Ugandans favour presidential age limits, Afrobarometer survey shows

An overwhelming majority of Ugandans support age limits for presidential candidates, in contrast to a constitutional amendment in 2017 lifting such a restriction, the most recent Afrobarometer survey shows.

At least eight out of 10 citizens favour setting both maximum and minimum age limits for president. Support for a maximum age is strongest among supporters of opposition political parties, but even among adherents of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), almost three-fourths agree.


AD425: Support for elections weakens among Africans; many see them as ineffective in holding leaders accountable

For Africa watchers, the 1990s ushered in a period of democratic renewal (Joseph, 1997; Schraeder, 1995). Democracy’s retreat globally over the past decade (Freedom House, 2019) has touched Africa as well (Logan & Penar, 2019; Gadjanova, 2018), although Afrobarometer survey findings suggest that it’s in the delivery of democratic goods, rather than citizens’ aspirations, that democracy in Africa is falling short (Gyimah-Boadi, 2019).


Ugandans see COVID-19 impacts on the election – and election impacts on the pandemic

Ugandans expect the COVID-19 pandemic to have significant negative impacts on Thursday’s general election, a new Afrobarometer survey shows. They also fear that the election will worsen the pandemic.

Even so, in interviews in late December and early January, a majority favoured going ahead with the election as planned – but with relaxed police enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.


Many Ugandans skeptical, apprehensive heading in toward Election Day

Many Ugandans were doubtful about the fairness of the general election campaign and apprehensive about possible violence as they approached Election Day on Thursday, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.

In a survey in late December and early January, fewer than half of respondents considered the campaign a level playing field for all candidates, and a majority said that opposition parties and supporters were often silenced by the government.


Uganda election: Museveni holds clear lead, but many don’t reveal preferences,

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni holds a nearly 3-to-1 lead over challenger Bobi Wine among registered voters willing to declare their voting intentions ahead of Thursday’s election, a new Afrobarometer survey shows, but many respondents would not say how they intended to vote, so the final outcome may be much closer. The nation could also be headed toward electing a more closely divided Parliament.


AD415: Double standard? Ugandans see vote buying as ‘wrong and punishable,’ vote selling less so

Buying and selling votes is illegal in Uganda, punishable by up to three years in prison and/or a fine, according to the Parliamentary Elections Act (Government of Uganda, 2005). Analysts argue that voter bribery fosters a broader environment of corruption that impedes economic development, political accountability, and the provision of public goods (Stokes, 2005; Robinson & Verdier, 2013; Khemani, 2015).


Many Ugandans question value of elections in ensuring representation and accountability, Afrobarometer survey shows

Substantial proportions of Uganda’s electorate don’t see voting as an effective way to ensure that their views are represented and to hold leaders accountable, the latest Afrobarometer survey shows.

And almost half say that communities that don’t vote for the ruling party may suffer negative consequences.

While the share of citizens who say elections enable voters to remove non-performing leaders has grown to a majority, almost four in 10 still disagree.


PP69: Election présidentielle 2020 en Côte d’Ivoire: Quels ingrédients pour la participation inclusive?

L’approche des élections présidentielles du 31 octobre 2020 en Côte d’Ivoire rime avec des tensions dans le paysage politique ivoirien. Depuis plusieurs mois, les partis politiques de l’opposition et les citoyens ordinaires manifestent publiquement leur contestation, en réaction à un potentiel troisième mandat du président sortant, ainsi que par rapport à la révision de la liste électorale qu’ils estiment opaque et non inclusive.


En large majorité, les Guinéens rejettent plus de deux mandats présidentiels

Trois quarts des Guinéens soutiennent une limitation des mandats présidentiels à deux selon la récente enquête d’Afrobarometer.

Le Président Alpha Condé avait organisé un référendum le 22 mars 2020 pour introduire la réforme constitutionnelle qui lui permet aujourd’hui de briguer le suffrage des Guinéens pour une troisième fois. La Commission Electorale Nationale Indépendante (CENI) avait ainsi annoncé que le « oui » en faveur de la révision constitutionnelle l’avait emporté à 91,59% contre seulement 8,4%.


Ivoirians want presidential mandates limited to two terms, age limits for presidential candidates

Most Ivoirians favour limiting presidential mandates to two terms, an Afrobarometer survey shows.

The survey, conducted in November 2019, shows that more than three-fourths (78%) of citizens say the Constitution should limit the president to a maximum of two terms. Term limits have had solid public backing since Afrobarometer began its national surveys in Côte d’Ivoire in 2013. The decision initially announced by President Alassane Ouattara not to seek a third term was thus in line with public opinion.


Les Ivoiriens sont en faveur de la limitation du mandat présidentiel à un maximum de deux

Les Ivoiriens soutiennent largement la limitation du mandat présidentiel à deux, selon une nouvelle enquête d’Afrobarometer. En effet, ils sont huit Ivoiriens sur 10 (78%) à penser que le mandat du président de la République devrait être limité à deux. La décision initialement annoncée par le Président Alassane Ouattara de ne pas briguer un troisième mandat était ainsi en phase avec l’opinion des Ivoiriens. 


PP58: Africans want open elections – especially if they bring change

Observers now commonly assert that multiparty elections are institutionalized as a standard feature of African politics (Posner & Young, 2007; Bratton, 2013; Cheeseman, 2018; Bleck & van de Walle, 2019). By this they mean that competitive electoral contests are the most commonplace procedure for choosing and changing political leaders across the continent.


AD182: Election quality: Ugandans skeptical of electoral commission, back reforms to gain transparency

Over the past decade, Uganda has emerged as a success story of African development. Economic growth and diversification, relative political stability, and considerable investment in infrastructure have seen the country rise as a regional power (Murray, Mesfin, & Wolters, 2016). But to many international observers, this success is dimmed by the long rule of President Yoweri Museveni and a political system that has been described as “dictatorship light” (Gettleman, 2016). While elections are conducted regularly, many have questioned how free they are.


AD177: Popular trust in national electoral commission a question mark as Zimbabwe enters new era


Malawians losing confidence in elections, demand reforms, new Afrobarometer survey shows

A growing number of Malawians say the country should adopt methods other than elections for choosing its leaders because elections produce “bad results.” According to the latest Afrobarometer survey, four in 10 citizens support this idea – more than twice as many as a decade ago.


Facing election test, Kenya can look to popular support for the rule of law, survey shows

Popular support for the rule of law is one of Kenya’s strengths as it confronts an electoral crisis in the wake of the annulled presidential contest of August 8, Afrobarometer survey findings suggest.

Based on a national survey conducted last October, more Kenyans trust the courts than the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and fully three-quarters of citizens expect the president to obey the courts even if he thinks they’re wrong.


AD140: Algerians’ darkening outlook on economy and democracy predates recent anti-austerity protests

Six years after protests swept Northern Africa in the Arab Spring, Algeria entered 2017 with unrest in the streets. Like many other petro-economies, Algeria relies heavily on high state spending and subsidies. But in recent years, plummeting oil and gas prices have hit the county’s economy hard. Algeria generates about 95% of its export earnings from oil, and faced with dwindling revenues and reserves, the government has been tasked with reducing state spending by 9% in 2016 and another 14% at the beginning of this year (Falconer, 2017; Stratfor, 2017; Wrey, 2017).


WP171: Do electoral handouts affect voting behavior?

Vote-buying is defined as a transaction whereby candidates distribute private goods such as cash and gifts in exchange for electoral support or higher turnout. The direct implication of this definition is that vote shares and turnout would have been lower in the absence of electoral handouts. While there is ample evidence that candidates target certain voters with cash handouts, it is unclear whether these handouts actually result in greater turnout or higher vote shares in favour of the distributing candidate.