Elections

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Togolese voice strong support for two-term limit

By a 6-to-1 margin, Togolese citizens favour a two-term limit for their president, according to a new Afrobarometer survey.

Based on the October 2014 survey, 85% of respondents agree – including 60% who “strongly agree” – with the statement that “The Constitution should limit the president of the Republic to serving a maximum of two terms in office” (see Figure 1 below). Only 13% favour no limit on presidential mandates.

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Mauritians support proportional representation, split on other reforms

Mauritians favour a proportional representation system for National Assembly elections but remain divided regarding two other proposed reforms – introducing an elected president with greater executive powers and eliminating National Assembly representation based on ethnic and religious affiliation, a new Afrobarometer survey reveals.

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Majority of Burundians support presidential term limits

Six of 10 Burundians (62%) support limiting presidential terms to two – a remarkable evolution of public opinion between 2012 and 2014.

In 2012, only 51% of Burundian citizens supported presidential term limits. The larger new majority may indicate that as the country approaches elections, and in response to public debate on the issue, the number of people opposed to a third presidential term is increasing.

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Batswana decry self-interest of politicians but continue to support the ruling party

If elections were held in June or July 2014, the majority of Batswana would have voted for the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). The Botswana Congress Party (BCP) would consolidate its position as the strongest opposition party. The coalition of opposition parties, the Umbrella for
Democratic Change (UDC) would have won 13%. The coalition consists of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (which broke away from the ruling party), the Botswana National Front and the Botswana People's Party.

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BP152: Democratization in Kenya: Public dissatisfied with the benefit-less transition

Africa’s transition to multiparty democracy has often been accompanied by a re-institutionalization of autocratic regimes and authoritarianism. This tension between the forces of progress and regression has become an enduring feature of Africa’s electoral and democratic transitions, a contradiction of more frequent elections and the consolidation of multipartyism accompanied by a reversal of democratic gains and the institutionalization of violence during elections. Elections and democracy have not always correlated strongly.

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BP125: Examining the relevance of political parties in Malawi

This briefing paper examines the relevance of political parties in Malawi’s democracy. Beyond the functionalist assumption that existence suggests some positive contribution of an organ to the whole, this paper looks at social operational pre-requisites that justify the relevance and existence of political parties. Specifically the paper focuses on the linkage role of political parties.

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BP103: Voting intentions in Zimbabwe: A margin of terror?

Intermittently over the past decade, researchers have taken the political pulse of the general public in Zimbabwe. Public opinion surveys provide information on what ordinary citizens are thinking about the issues of the day. Among the most anticipated survey results are the expressed party preferences and voting intentions. At any given time, Zimbabweans are understandably eager to know how their fellow citizens would vote “if an election were held tomorrow.”  This briefing paper offers an alternative account of current voting intentions in Zimbabwe.

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BP97: Zimbabwe: The evolving public mood

At the end of 2010, Zimbabwean citizens remained broadly supportive of power sharing as an antidote to political crisis.  But they were increasingly critical of the halting performance of their country’s coalition government.  Most people also perceived declining civil liberties and feared resurgent political violence.  Yet clear majorities called for constitutional reforms to limit the powers of the presidency and seemingly even for free elections in 2011 to return the country to legitimate rule.  

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BP88: Namibia political party prospects leading to the 2009 elections

The structure of government and opposition in Namibia as a dominant party system became solidified after independence in 1990 (Du Pisani and Lindeke, IPPR 2009).  But, over the past year a number of new political parties have been formed to challenge the established ruling party, SWAPO Party of Namibia, as it has been officially called since independence.  These new parties are also challenging the existing opposition parties in Namibia.

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BP83: Zimbabwe: People's development agenda in 2009

For many Zimbabweans, life in the last few years has been nasty, brutish and sometimes short, but there is now a flicker of light at the end of a dark and long tunnel. Things started really falling apart in 2008 with the unprecedented cholera outbreak that claimed more than 4 000 lives and infected over 100 000 others. Zimbabwe stood at the edge of a precipice with health centres and schools closed, shops displaying empty shelves, acute shortages of food and other basic essentials, and rampant politically-motivated violence and human rights violations.

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BP76: Proportional representation and popular assessments of MP performance in South Africa: A desire for electoral reform?

This policy brief examines public attitudes towards MPs, and indirectly towards the electoral system in South Africa in 2008. The Afrobarometer survey did not ask directly whether people wanted electoral reform, including constituency-based selection of MPs.  But it did ask a range of questions about the accessibility of MPs, satisfaction with their performance, and accountability relationships.  These help us to get an overall sense of the level of satisfaction – or dissatisfaction – with the current system and how it is functioning.  

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BP75: A country turning blue?: Political party support and the end of regionalism in Malawi

This bulletin draws on data collected in four Afrobarometer surveys of public attitudes to examine trends in party support in Malawi over the course of the last decade, looking especially at the extent of regionalism in Malawian party politics.  How regionally diverse are the support bases of each of Malawi’s leading political parties?

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BP48: Ethnicity and violence in the 2007 elections in Kenya

The recent Kenyan elections have given rise to violent confrontations between ethnic communities. During the first half of December, in the run up to the elections, the University of Oxford, in collaboration with researchers from the Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut, conducted a detailed survey of voter intentions, attitudes towards violence, corruption, performance of leaders, political party preferences, ethnicity and socio-economic characteristics.

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BP35: Term limits, the presidency, and the electoral system: What do Nigerians want?

The controversy over presidential term limits is at the center of public discussion in Nigeria. The most recent national opinion survey by the Afrobarometer  finds strong support among the Nigerian public for term limits, free elections, competitive politics, and constitutional government. This survey shows widespread popular disapproval for an indefinite tenure of the chief Executive, and firm support for the present constitutional limit of two terms for elected officials.

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BP9: Democracy and electoral alternation: Evolving African attitudes

Almost 15 years have passed since waves of democratization began to crash on African shores. Transitions to multiparty rule were often greeted with mass public celebration.  But how long does any such political enthusiasm last?   Are Africans’ expressed commitments to democracy  enduring or ephemeral?

This paper argues that democratic commitments are not fixed. They tend to decline with the passage of time.  But, more reassuringly, democratic commitments can be refreshed by an electoral alternation of power.

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WP144: Social desirability bias and reported vote preferences in African surveys

Much of what we know about voting behavior in Africa is based on data from public opinion surveys. However, there has been little investigation into whether reported voter preferences are reliable, or whether they are affected by bias, particularly that which may arise from the social undesirability of “tribalistic” voting. I use a voting simulation experiment in Uganda and analysis of existing surveys from a number of African countries to show that voters who are observed by others are less likely to report a preference for a coethnic candidate.

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WP137: Perceptions versus reality: Assessing popular evaluations of election quality in Africa

In this paper, I assess the determinants and validity of citizens’ perceptions of election quality. First, I suggest that citizens’ evaluation of the performance of election-related institutions is the most crucial determinant of their election quality perceptions; however, citizens’ personal experience with electoral irregularities, and affiliation with electoral winners also matter. Second, I argue that citizens’ election quality perceptions are generally indicative of prevailing trends within different stages of the election process.

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WP135: Museveni and the 2011 Ugandan election: Did the money matter?

In February 2011, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni further extended his already twenty-five-year tenure by winning a resounding re-election victory. In the aftermath of the vote, which many had earlier predicted would be competitive or even result in an opposition victory, analysts and opposition supporters ascribed Museveni’s victory to his government’s massive pre-election spending on public goods, and to supposedly widespread vote-buying practices.

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WP127: Voting intentions in Africa: Ethnic, economic or partisan?

This paper offers a first comprehensive account of popular voting intentions in Africa’s new electoral democracies. With reference to comparative aggregate and survey data from 16 countries, we show that competitive elections in Africa are more than mere ethnic censuses or simple economic referenda. Instead, Africans engage in both ethnic and economic voting. Not surprisingly, people who belong to the ethnic group in power intend to support the ruling party, in contrast to those who feel a sense of discrimination against their cultural group.

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WP121: Political participation in Africa: Participatory inequalities and the role of resources

The aim of this paper is to examine the role of individual resource endowments for explaining individual and group variation in African political participation. Drawing on new data for more than 27 000 respondents in 20 emerging African democracies, the empirical findings suggest surprisingly weak explanatory power of the resource perspective, both for explaining individual variation and observed group inequalities in participation. In several cases, the relatively resource poor groups participate to a greater extent than the relatively resource rich.

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WP115: Support you can count on? Ethnicity, partisanship, and retrospective voting in Africa

In this paper we investigate voting behavior in Africa to ask what base of support presidents can count on. The most prevalent notion about electoral politics in Africa is that voters simply vote for co-ethnics. We find that assumption to be faulty. While voters tend to support a co-ethnic president, their support is not inevitable, and non co-ethnics can be swayed in a president’s favor in essentially the same fashion as co-ethnics. We show that, despite political parties lack of differentiable policy programs, party identification is what gives presidents their strongest support base.

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WP114: Vote-buying and political behavior: Estimating and explaining vote-buying's effect on turnout in Kenya

Vote-buying has and continues to be pervasive in many electoral regimes. Yet the relationship between vote-buying and citizen behavior, particularly in the context of the secret ballot, remains largely unknown. In this paper I study vote-buying’s effect on voter turnout in Kenya, using a nationally representative survey that includes questions about the country's 2002 presidential and parliamentary elections.

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WP107: Cross-cutting cleavages and ethnic voting: An experimental study of cousinage in Mali

Social scientists often attribute moderation of the political salience of ethnicity, in ethnically diverse societies, to the presence of cross-cutting cleavages-that is, to dimensions of identity or interest along which members of the same ethnic group may have diverse allegiances. Yet estimating the causal effects of cross-cutting cleavages is difficult.

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WP106: Is clientelism at work in African elections? A study of voting behavior in Kenya and Zambia

In this study I challenge the notion that personalism and clientelism structure voting behavior in Africa. Using a unique combination of data sources - survey responses from the Afrobarometer project merged with constituency-level election returns - I test the relative power of two interpersonal, clientelistic interactions between voters and members of parliament (MPs), vs. how often MPs visit their constituency, in predicting election outcomes.

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WP104: Do free elections foster capable governments? The democracy-governance connection in Africa

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.

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WP103: Tribalism as a minimax-regret strategy: Evidence from voting in the 2007 Kenyan elections

Although many studies find that voting in Africa approximates an ethnic census in that voting is primarily along ethnic lines, few studies have sought to explain such voting behavior using a rational choice framework. In this note, we use data of voter opinions from a survey conducted two weeks before the 2007 Kenyan presidential elections to evaluate the primary motivation for voting. We analyze voter responses on a number of issues and show that there are major differences in expected benefits across ethnic groups depending on the winning presidential candidate.

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WP99: Vote buying and violence in Nigerian election campaigns

Vote buying and political intimidation are important, if epiphenomenal, dimensions of Nigerian election campaigns. According to survey-based estimates, fewer than one out of five Nigerians is personally exposed to vote buying and fewer than one in ten experiences threats of electoral violence. But when, as commonly happens, campaign irregularities are targeted at the rural poor, effects are concentrated. These effects are as follows: violence reduces turnout; and vote buying enhances partisan loyalty.

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