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Survey Shows Africans Want Democracy

Recent studies by the Benin-based Group for the Study and Research of Democracy and Social and Economic Development in Africa (GERDDES- Afrique) documents strong popular support for democracy in the region:
  • Some 86% of 264 respondents from a careful distribution of the population of Benin expressed preference for civilian democracy over a military dictatorship.
  • A sample of 1,200 in the Central African Republic showed 87% in favor.
  • In Ghana, which held free elections last December, a survey of 1,439 indicated that 88% preferred an elected civilian government to a military regime.

       The GERDDES studies further document that most Africans believe democracy is their best chance for economic development as well as political freedom. The empirical evidence suggests they are right: long-time democracies Mauritius and Botswana prosper economically, while the worst dictatorships consistently fail. Democratic and liberalizing governments such as Mali, Ghana, and Benin are experiencing strong economic growth. These countries’ democratically-elected leaders have managed their resources carefully, while the dictators of Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria have pilfered the countries’ treasuries and devastated the environment.

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