Support for competitive politics and government performance: public perceptions of democracy in Senegal

Support for competitive politics and government performance: public perceptions of democracy in Senegal

Government performance and satisfaction with democracy in Senegal

Previous analyses of citizens’ perceptions of democracy in Senegal have largely focused on elite views. This study seeks to present perspectives of democracy from the point of view of ordinary Senegalese citizens.

The author examines the relationship between general trends in satisfaction with democracy and perceptions of government performance using two rounds of Afrobarometer data. The results for the round of data collected in 2005 indicate that satisfaction with democracy is a function of government performance and that economic factors and partisanship remain strong predictors of how people assess satisfaction with democracy as in other African countries.

The findings indicate that satisfaction with democracy remains significantly high among citizens as their preferred form of government. Nevertheless, the survey results reveal a sizeable decrease over time in the magnitude of citizens’ views of democracy’s effectiveness. Satisfaction with democracy also decreased by age, and to some extent, by educational attainment.

The findings for other socio-demographic variables are more nuanced. For example, while satisfaction with democracy markedly increased in rural areas, popular discontent rose in urban areas. This indicates a strong correlation between area of residence and the magnitude of satisfaction with democracy.

The evidence on ethnicity is also ambiguous. There has been a decrease in satisfaction with democracy for over half of the ethnic groups surveyed. It is unclear whether this can be attributed to a specific group effect based on endogenous perceptions of how the group is treated. The evidence suggests that ethnic identity does not seem to be a key determinant of political behavior in contrast to the cases of Kenya and Nigeria, two other African democracies.

The results indicate that evaluation of government performance does indeed affect satisfaction with democracy.

  1. How good is this research?

    Assessing the quality of research can be a tricky business. This blog from our editor offers some tools and tips.