Public opinion and the consolidation of democracy in Namibia

Type Working Paper - Afrobarometer Working Paper no. 15
Title Public opinion and the consolidation of democracy in Namibia
Issue 15
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
Page numbers 1-48
A 1999 survey of public attitudes suggests that Namibia's democracy faces serious challenges. While most Namibians believe they are benefitting from democracy, some evidence-such as the sizeable number who would support civilian authoritarianism in the form of a strong president-also suggests that while support for democracy is widespread, it is not deep. Although there are no clearly definable social groupings that can be labelled "anti-democratic"or "non-democratic," two important factors account for much of the variation in opinions and attitudes: the urban-rural divide, and partisanship. The urban-rural divide captures many of the socio-economic inequalities present in the country and has a significant influence on almost all variables. A clear divide also emerges between supporters of the ruling party and those who back the opposition. Namibia still appears to be a country with serious political divisions. This reality, coupled with the lack of depth in the support for democracy, presents a potentially serious obstacle to democratic consolidation. But Namibia also exhibits a number of elements conducive to the consolidation of democracy, including high levels of legitimacy, high levels of trust in representatives, and a strong beief that the system is responsive to the needs of the citizenry.

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