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Africa

Perceptions of Democracy in Africa

Most Americans are not aware that democracy in Africa has grown over the least 10 years. A majority supports aid to help promote democracy in Africa.

Among observers of Africa, there has been a general consensus that democracy in Africa has shown clear growth and improvement since the end of the Cold War. However, most Americans are not aware of this. A January 2003 PIPA poll asked, "Do you think the number of democratic countries in Africa over the last ten years has increased, decreased, or stayed about the same?" Less than one in five--18%--knew that the number of African democracies has increased. Seventy percent believed that the number of democracies had either stayed the same (48%) or decreased (22%). [1]

In the same survey, respondents were asked to estimate "approximately what percentage of African countries regularly hold free and fair elections." The median estimate was just 25%. [2]

Though Americans are unaware of the headway made by democracy in Africa, a clear majority is willing to increase US assistance to help build democratic institutions there. Fifty-seven percent favored "increasing aid to help promote democracy in African countries that have large Muslim populations" "as a way of addressing the threat of terrorism." [3]

 

 

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Recent Data Updates
Africa - August 2008 (PDF)