Citizens and the State in Africa: New Results from Afrobarometer Round 3

"This compendium reports on the findings from new questions and topic areas explored in Round 3 of the Afrobarometer, involving public attitude surveys conducted in 18 countries from 2005-2006. The bulk of these new questions build upon the theme of citizen-state relations, exploring how well citizens know and understand their political system, how effectively the state is serving their most important needs, and how corruption shapes citizen assessments of state legitimacy. These findings have important implications for the consolidation of democracy. For example, we find that while Africans rate the quality of their elections relatively highly, the ability of elections to provide them with either a real voice in government, or an effective means for enforcing accountability on their representatives, remains much less certain. In addition, we find that while the state enjoys a considerable degree of legitimacy, and there is solid support for protection of individual freedoms and enforcement of the rule of law, there is also a sizeable and consistent minority that expresses willingness to compromise on these issues, either to protect the state, or to “get things done.” It appears that the public recognizes the need for citizens to be more critical of the state in principle, but does not always find itself able to fulfill this duty in practice."