Democratisation in Africa: Mozambique’s Perceived Supply and Demand of Democracy
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Recent reports give more relevance to a big and positive democratic trend in Africa, than to short-term democratic recessions. Yet this attempt to revive the ‘demo-optimism’ in the literature of democratisation ignores some stagnant and declining democracies from its optimistic analysis, such as Mozambique. The present research tried to understand the state of democracy in Mozambique by looking at people’s perceptions of demand and supply of democracy. Using data mainly from Africa’s largest public opinion independent survey, Afrobarometer, it was possible to measure the attitudes that Mozambicans have towards democracy. Results imply that democracy is still seen as an alienating and artificial concept and that both perceived supply and demand of democracy are in progressive decline in Mozambique – this is the portrayal of a country with over 20 years of democratic experience, that is becoming less and less democratic. Yet this study has wider implications for the debate of democracy in Africa: if democracy remains estranging to Africans, and if the perceived demand continues to decline, can there ever be democracy without ‘committed democrats’? And how can democracy be adapted and improved in Africa beyond western terms and the view that repeated elections advance democracy?
Do Africans want democracy? Recent public opinion reports (Mattes & Bratton, 2016) give more relevance to big and positive democratic trends in Africa than to short-term democratic recessions. Yet this attempt to revive the ‘demo-optimism’ in the literature of democratisation (Dahl, 1989; Wiseman, 1995; Lindberg, 2006), which often attributes a democratising effect to repeated elections, ignores some stagnant and declining democracies from its optimistic analysis, such as Mozambique. But do Mozambicans want democracy? This research will focus on the perceptions of both supply and demand for democracy in Mozambique to understand how much people want democracy today and which lessons we can draw from the short-lived democratic experience in the country so far. This essay argues that today the perceived demand for democracy is lower than the perceived supply in Mozambique, which means that support and satisfaction with democracy are more limited today than 10 years ago.
This study happens during a time where the country is through an ongoing democratization process since the first multiparty elections in 1994 after the end of sixteen years of civil war between the Mozambique’s Liberation Front (FRELIMO) and the Mozambique’s National Resistance (RENAMO), today both institutionalized political parties. This is the context that people’s attitudes in Mozambique are framed within. The importance of this research will be understanding how Mozambicans are coping with the democratic system and how they perceive it. Even though it’s quite specific, it can raise issues on how artificial democracy is for people in countries where the political system has been built by foreign intervention through a third party, which is the case of most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Angola and Mozambique.
In the peace agreements in 1992, Mozambique seemed an ideal candidate for a successful democratisation process ending a sixteen-year-old civil war. But it was also the poorest country in the world at the time and there were no social, political or economic structures that could successfully accommodate a democratic system. (Manning, 2002: 63). According to Carrie Manning, a researcher that has dedicated her life to studying Mozambique’s postwar democracy, “Mozambique stands as one of the world’s most unlikely postwar democratization success stories”, and she asked, “What accounts for the durability of the postwar political settlement?” (Manning, 2002: 63). Manning argues that Mozambique’s fragile postwar political system survived due to formal democratic competition being embraced and to informal elite bargaining between the leaders of FRELIMO and RENAMO. This dynamic involving both parties caused elite habituation and increased the prospects of long-term peace, where conflict management happened through democratic processes. Manning’s explanation is convincing because, up to 2002, there was not much data regarding political violence in Mozambique, which confirmed the existence of conflict management under the instalment of the political elite. However, FRELIMO has managed to win every election under the new multi-party system since 1994, which not only has originated resistance from the main political opponent, RENAMO, such as refusing to accept election results, but it also keeps Mozambicans from distinguishing the government from the state. Today, the political environment in Mozambique is shaped by the rise of some armed conflicts and political violence, which have unveiled the fragility of the political system, under FRELIMO’s governance. To continue the process of state-building, and the consolidation of peace, it is imperative that mechanisms for political inclusion, for developing core state functions and for instituting the rule of law, respond to public expectations too. Today, elite habituation and formal democracy don’t seem to be enough to expand democratic values, through elections and elite bargaining between the main political parties; Mozambicans have a view too and, as it will be explained further in this paper, pro-democratic civil movements have been key to push democratic transitions in most African countries, back in 1980s (Wiseman, 1995). A democracy cannot advance without the people’s support, and this paper tries to capture attitudes towards democracy with that intention: to voice public opinion and to give democratisation a bottom-up view.
At a time where recent reports talk about the long-term trends of democratic improvements against short-term casualties and incidents, Mozambique is an intriguing case, raking in the bottom of many democratic indicators and variables when compared to other African countries (Mattes & Bratton, 2016: 21). Some scepticism is needed to address issues related to democratization faced by some countries. It’s important to understand how democracy is perceived by the people. The measurement of public opinion is a powerful instrument to evaluate how the citizens of Mozambique have been coping with democracy and how democratic has the country become. Therefore, this paper also investigates how artificial is democracy for Mozambicans today, not only using a model of perceived demand and supply of democracy, but also evaluating the perceived meaning of democracy.
More objectively, my research question is: when equating the perceived supply and demand for democracy, do Mozambicans want more democracy today than they did 10 years ago? In my view, there are three possible results regarding the perceived supply and demand for democracy in Mozambique.
- Hypothesis 1 (H1): Both perceived supply and demand for democracy have decreased among Mozambicans and the supply is higher than demand.
- Hypothesis 2 (H2): Both perceived supply and demand for democracy have decreased among Mozambicans and the demand is higher than supply.
- Hypothesis 3 (H3): Both perceived supply and demand for democracy have increased in Mozambique in the last 10 years.
H1 and H2 coincide in the decline of both supply and demand for democracy, with the difference of supply being higher than demand in H1, and vice-versa. In opposition, H3 predicts a positive outcome, where both supply and demand have increased in Mozambique, which seems to be the least expected in this case because of the context that was given in this introductory note.
Discussing what people perceive of democracy is key to understand democratisation in Africa. Without measuring what people perceive, believe, think towards democracy in countries like Mozambique, it is impossible to expect a democratic consolidation made through the institutions, in a top-down oriented process. Formally, Mozambique has democratic institutions and a democratic Constitution. If Africans fail to recognise democracy as an organic and constructive idea, even if democracy is constitutionalised, can there ever be democratic consolidation in Africa?
The relevant theoretical and empirical literature of this research falls onto the study of political behaviour and attitudes towards Democracy. Since ‘Democracy’ is a key definition, this concept will be defined according to Robert Dahl. I hope this study can bridge between different areas of theoretical knowledge, such as democratisation and public opinion in post conflict societies, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where there’s often little study of political attitudes compared to the existing literature on Western countries.
Firstly, the concept of democracy put forward in this research is Dahl’s Polyarchy, which means “a distinctive set of political institutions and practices, a particular body of rights, a social and economic order, a system that ensures desirable results, on a unique process of making collective and binding decisions” (Dahl, 1989: 5). Others argue that, as long as elections are competitive, they are the only mechanism that legitimatizes a democratic system, and the finality of them is to elect a government (Schumpeter, 1976). However, in this procedural definition, questions about the gap between the masses and the elite and the elite’s accountability remain unaddressed. For this reason, Dahl’s idea of liberal democracy will be the theoretical background for the study of democratisation on Mozambique. However, like many other theoretical constructions, there is a tendency to view democracy in ‘Western’ terms and, therefore, to assume an inevitable trend towards one direction: consolidation (Hyden & Bratton, 1992: 5).
Transitional Paradigm vs. Consolidation
It’s important to understand if democracy in Mozambique is better explained as under transition or if it’s consolidating. The key is to analyse the cultural change with twenty-five years of exposing civil society to these democratic values.
It is not possible to assume that democratisation will eventually lead to consolidation, which is a contested concept by itself. Huntington defines consolidation as two peaceful electoral handovers (1991: 267). Yet, this minimalistic definition seems inadequate for this study. For the purpose of this paper, consolidation will mean the spread of democratic values and not only democratic procedures. As Mattes et al (2005) states:
A transition to democracy does not require “democrats” or “free marketeers”, in the sense of leaders and followers fully committed to liberal norms. Even diehard autocrats or central planners can sometimes conclude that compromise is an acceptable way forward. By contrast, the consolidation of new regimes would seem to depend on a widespread cultural change in which elites and masses come to believe in core democratic and market values. For example, consolidated democracy seems to need democrats. (p. 48-49)
Public Opinion: cause or consequence of regime change?
According to Mattes et al (2005), public opinion can either precede political change or be a product of popular learning. Therefore, it not only shapes the political system, but it is an outcome too. Pro-democratic attitudes in African countries today cannot be exclusively interpreted as a result of institutional reforms, neither these democratic reforms are exclusive from an elite change due to international pressure. “Although the changed external environment was more conducive to political reform, the major pressures for democratisation were those being exerted in Africa by Africans.” (Wiseman, 1995: 4). Wiseman believes that the internal pressures for democratisation played a major role when compared with the external developments. Africans valued democracy due to economic decline and crisis of legitimacy. There was demand for democracy because the income per capita had worsen with poor economic performance, and corruption was and impunity increased what Wiseman calls “the popular desire to make the political elites accountable for their actions” (Wiseman, 1995: 5).
How democratic are Sub-Saharan countries today? The ongoing debate is on whether hosting competitive elections in Africa has brought democracy closer or further away. This concerns the value of elections on the promotion democratic values and political liberalization within institutions. The literature concerning the value of elections for democratization can be divided into two important arguments: the critical perspective by Collier (2009) or the more optimistic viewpoint by Lindberg (2006). These division in the literature has a long past. Since the 1990s, “scholars writing on this topic as either ‘demo-optimists’ or ‘demo-pessimists’ depending on how highly they rate the chances of recent moves towards democracy producing a more sustained form of democratic rule in at least a significant number of African states” (Wiseman, 1995: 10). Wiseman was a ‘demo-optimist’ school of thought like Lindberg.
Collier (2007) argues that elections promoted by Western liberal democracies in African countries have not brought liberal democracy, but unaccountable and illegitimate governments that do not enhance the prospects of peace within the national territories (Collier, 2007: 49). Collier’s argument is fit for several African countries, but not for Mozambique, which has a legitimate government and a relative long lasting peace.
On the other hand, Lindberg (2006) believes that repeated contested elections have a surprising democratising effect in Africa. Activism throughout campaigns, opportunities for political change, such as voters demands and politicians promises, media liberation, contribute to improve democratic qualities in the country while holding elections (Lindberg, 2006: 148). For Lindberg, there is also the fact that countries are monitored during elections by the international community, which pressure and advocate for political reform and broader civil. Yet countries in early stages of democratization can also benefit from these democratic improvements (Lindberg, 2006: 148). Therefore, Lindberg believes that “Africa’s hybrid regimes may in fact be on a slow but steady track to democracy”. The author uses Mozambique as one of the countries to test this theory. By June 2003, Mozambique had held 2 elections and seemed to be improving in terms of civil liberties. Data presented by Lindberg showed that African countries with more elections to date had a more favourable level of civil liberties (Lindberg, 2006: 141).
This theory also says that African elites have adjusted their behaviour and strategies as a result of repeated elections because “fear and mistrust among former combatants and political rivals (…) have slowly been replaced by mutual coexistence, acceptance, and peaceful competition” (Lindberg, 2006: 149), which links back to Manning’s idea of elite habituation and conflict management.
The study uses data from three sources: firstly, Afrobarometer, an independent survey that makes public opinion surveys on 37 countries in Africa using 150 languages. This data was collected in Mozambique in the years 2002, 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2015 – survey rounds 2 to 6. For example, the latest survey was a representative sample of 2,400 people. Secondly, Freedom House, whose Freedom Rating was used, this includes the Civil Liberties and the Political Rights ratings. In this index, countries are ranked on a seven-point scale, where 1 represents the freest and 7 the least free. Thirdly, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy index has been used to compare the Democratic trends in Mozambique, where countries are rated from 0 to 10 in different parameters. The data from these sources has been combined to make a democratic portrait of Mozambique.
To analyse people’s attitudes towards democracy, I used several variables measured by the Afrobarometer survey that demonstrate the perceived meaning, demand and supply of democracy in Mozambique.
These pro-democratic attitudes will be key to understand to which extent people in Mozambique see democracy as something organic, something that they understand, something that they perceive as functioning and present in their society.
At a time where the theoretical debate on democracy in Africa lies between optimistic expectations and sceptical pessimists, this research brings the idea that it is necessary to be a bit sceptical of the effects of democratisation in Africa and demand more, but, at the same time, to be optimistic about the democratic future of Africa. Therefore, this study offers an opportunity to review the democratic improvements or regressions in Mozambique from the public eye.
Whether democracy is artificial or not for people in Mozambique, it became important to know what people felt about it first. Therefore, respondents were asked in the Afrobarometer’s round 6 questionnaire “What, if anything, does ‘democracy’ mean to you?”. This question allowed open answers, which were then merged by topic in the data treatment. If the respondent did not understand the word “democracy” in English, French or Portuguese, it would be translated into other local languages. The interviewer accepted up to three answers; in case of more than three, the interviewer would ask which were the most important for the respondent. The purpose of this question was to see how much people knew about democracy and what it truly meant to them. Could it be expected that 20 years of democracy were enough to make democracy meaningful to people in an African country, scared from a colonial past, a civil war and a weak opposition party?
The answers were organised into types of categories: firstly replies where democracy had a positive meaning for the respondent, such as civil liberties; secondly replies where democracy had a negative meaning for the respondent, such as corruption; thirdly neutral replies, such as leadership; fourthly if the respondent didn’t know or didn’t understand the question, and finally respondents could claim that democracy had no meaning for them.
Figure 1 – Question 29a-f answers coding
Figure 2 shows the most frequent meanings of democracy to Mozambicans. This shows that, for people in Mozambique, democracy has more positive meanings than negative ones, but also a lot of people also don’t know what it exactly means. Among the positive replies, civil liberties are the most common meaning given to democracy by 41% of the respondents, followed by peace, unity and power sharing, with 33%. However, 36% of respondents answered that they didn’t know what democracy meant or didn’t understand the question. The rest of associations made with democracy are largely positive, such as equality and justice and social and economic development, while any negative reply lies under 1%.
Figure 2 – Meaning of Democracy 2015 by %
Variable Q29a-f. Meaning of Democracy
Question: What, if anything, does “democracy: mean to you?
Data source: Afrobaromater
See appendix A for original data source
To measure the popular demand for democracy in Mozambique, I used four variables from Afrobarometer’s data surveys. This replicates the selection of variables made in the Afrobarometer round 6 report (Bratton & Mattes, 2017), with some changes. A comparison by year was also possible due to data availability for Mozambique.
Fig. 3. Demand for Democracy 2015
Question: There are many ways to govern a country. Would you disapprove or approve the following alternatives?
Q28a. Only one political party is allowed to stand for election and hold office.
Q28b. The army comes in to govern the country.
Q28c. Elections and the National Assembly are abolished so that the president can decide everything.
(% who “disapprove” OR “strongly disapprove” of each alternative)
Variable Q30. Support for democracy
Question: Which of these three statements is closest to your own opinion?
Statement 1: Democracy is preferable to any other kind of government.
Statement 2: In some circumstances, a non-democratic government can be preferable.
Statement 3: For someone like me, it doesn’t matter what kind of government we have.
(% who choose statement 1: Democracy preferable)
Variable Demand for Democracy
Mean of 4 pro-democratic attitudes, Q28a, Q28b, Q28c and Q30.
Firstly, survey respondents were asked about whether they approved or disapproved several forms of authoritarian rule, such as if they disapproved that only one political party was allowed to stand for election and hold office – variable coded as ‘reject one-party rule -, if they disapproved the army coming in to rule the country – coded as ‘reject military rule’ -, and lastly if they disapproved that elections and the parliament were abolished letting the president decide everything – coded as ‘reject one-man rule’. Just like other African countries, Mozambique has been ruled by a one party its founding elections: FRELIMO has consecutively won all 5 elections to date in Mozambique, guaranteeing a solid majority in Parliament and consistent government without a strong opposition. The latest data from Afrobarometer survey from 2015 shows that, from the three main forms of authoritarian rule, people in Mozambique seem to reject the one-party rule by 50%, above military rule (43%) and presidential dictatorship (35%) – figure 3.
Secondly, respondents were asked if they preferred democracy to other forms of government – variable coded as ‘Support for Democracy’. In 2015, only 45% of the people interviewed preferred democracy (Figure 3), while 18% thought that non-democratic rule was sometimes necessary. Plus 25% didn’t know which one they preferred and 13% said that it didn’t matter to them. Please see Appendix C.
Inspired by the Afrobarometer’s latest report on Democracy in 2016, I’ve decided to combine these variables of attitudes toward democracy into ‘Demand for Democracy’. According to this report, ‘Demand for democracy’ was a combination of the respondents holding these 4 pro-democratic attitudes at the same time – what Bratton & Mattes called “committed democrats in the sense that they consistently give pro-democratic responses to all four items on the index” (Bratton & Mattes, 2016: 9). However, for the purpose of this paper, ‘Demand for Democracy’ is the mean of these 4 variables because it seemed more relevant for the context of Mozambique to understand the overall popular support for democracy, instead of only committed democrats. In Figure 4, the Demand for Democracy in 2015 was about 43%, which shows that most people in Mozambique don’t hold pro-democratic attitudes.
Figure 4 – Demand for Democracy 2005-2015
The comparison of attitudes toward democracy over the course of 10 years, between 2005 and 2015, in Figure 4 demonstrates a general decrease of pro-democratic attitudes in Mozambique.
Table 1 – Changes in Demand for Democracy
|Difference||Reject one-party rule||Reject military rule||Reject one-man rule||Support Democracy||Demand for Democracy (mean)|
When comparing the mean of attitudes toward democracy over 10 years, the change of -8.5% represents a substantial change in demand for democracy. When looking at Table 1, there is no doubt that pro-democratic attitudes decreased between 2005 and 2015. Perhaps the most significant regression has been the rejection of military rule, which decreased by 14%, followed by the decrease of support for democracy of 11%. This means that people in Mozambique are today more willing to accept a military authoritarian regime, and other forms of authoritarian rule, as democracy becomes less preferable.
To measure what Mozambicans perceive as supplied democracy, I chose two variables from Afrobarometer surveys that show, firstly, how democratic the country is today, and, secondly, how satisfied people are with democracy. These variables are common to all five surveys conducted in Mozambique, from round 2 to round 6 of data. Respondents were asked “In your opinion how much of a democracy is Mozambique today?”. All the responses can be found in Figure 5.
Figure 5 – Extent of Democracy 2002-2015
Variable Q40. Extent of democracy
Question: In your opinion how much of a democracy is Mozambique today?
The first impression of this chart is how skewed the data is to the towards positive asnwers, such as Mozambique as “a full democracy” and as “a democracy, but with minor problems”, followed by “a democracy, with major problems”. While it seems positive that most Mozambicans throughout the years held the opinion that their country was an imperfect democracy (“democracy, but with minor problems”), this value is higher back in 2002 (38%) than it is today (34%). From 2002 to 2015, there has been a progressive increase of people that don’t know how democratic their country is (from 10% to 16%); that don’t understand this question because they don’t understand democracy itself (from 5% to 6%, even though this decreased to 2% in 2013 and then gone up); that believe that live in a democracy with major problems (from 15% to 27%); and an increase of people that believe that Mozambique is not democratic (from 4% to 10%). Conversely, the number of people that thought that Mozambique was a full democracy progressively decreased, from 29% in 2002 to 12% in 2015, reaching its peak in 2006 when 35% of Mozambicans believed they lived in a perfect democracy. This means that almost 1 out of 3 respondents in 2002 believed Mozambique was a full democracy. Today, that number is down to 1 out of 10 people.
Similar to the demand for democracy, the mean of both the extent of democracy and satisfaction with democracy has been named ‘Supply of Democracy’: the overall perceived supply of democracy in Mozambique.
Figure 6 – Supply of Democracy 2015
Variable Q40. Extent of democracy
Question: In your opinion how much of a democracy is Mozambique today?
1. Not a democracy
2. A democracy, with major problems
3. A democracy, but with minor problems
4. A full democracy
5. Don’t know
6. Don’t understand the question / democracy
(% who answered 3 and 4)
Variable Q41. Satisfaction with democracy
Question: Overall, how satisfied are you with the way democracy works in Mozambique? Are you:
0. Mozambique is not a democracy
1. Not at all satisfied
2. Not very satisfied
3. Fairly satisfied
4. Very satisfied
(% who choose statements 3 and 4)
Variable Supply for Democracy
Mean of Q40 and Q41.
In Figure 6, people in Mozambique show a low level of satisfaction with democracy in 2015 (23%). This affects the supply of democracy (mean), which means that only 33% of people perceive they are supplied with democracy, while 77% believe that the level of democracy supplied in the country does not match their expectations.
When identifying a decreasing trend regarding the extent of democracy, there is an expectation of finding a similar trend for the satisfaction with democracy, which is confirmed by Figure 6. Apart from a 4% growth in 2005, the satisfaction with democracy seems to have a sharper decrease (-31%) than the extent of democracy (-25%) since 2002.
Figure 7 – Supply of Democracy
In Figure 7, the supply of democracy reveals that the most significant fall in the perceived supply of democracy in Mozambique happens between 2009 and 2014, which coincides with election periods. The most surprising aspect to it is that, in 2009, provincial elections were introduced for the first time to allow people to elect their local representations and to make the country more democratic, when in fact people believed their country became 20% democratic between 2009 and 2014. Questions are raised on whether more democracy equals less perceived democracy or if more elections necessarily mean democratic improvement.
To understand if people that want to be ruled democratically are supplied with what they want, the following comparison between supply and demand of democracy was made:
Figure 8 – Demand and Supply of Democracy
Please see Appendix C1 and C2 for original data source.
Both demand and supply of democracy have decreased in over 10 years. However, Mozambicans seem to have a higher demand for democracy today in relation to the supply. This means people in Mozambique want more democracy than what they have now because the demand is higher than the supply, even if they want less than before when comparing with 2002. But how can these be achieved? Can this happen through elections? Is holding elections the mechanism behind democratic improvements, such as people’s perceptions of supply and demand?
Mozambique is constitutionally bound to hold elections every 5 years. Only Presidential and Parliamentary Elections were held until 2009, when the Provincial Elections were introduced with the expectation of making the central government more accountable to regions. There have been 5 electoral periods in Mozambique to date:
Table 2– Elections in Mozambique
Returning to Lindberg’s argument that elections can advance democracy due to its intrinsic value in promoting democratic values in a society, can these post-electoral periods in Mozambique be translated into democratic improvements? Has Mozambique registered more improvements regarding democratic measures, such as freedom and civil liberties?
Since 1999 to 2016, Freedom House has registered 3 changes in Mozambique’s Freedom Rating index: an improvement of civil liberties in 2008 due to media liberation; a decline of political rights in 2010 due to the 2009 elections irregularities; and a decline of civil liberties in 2016 due to media restriction – see appendix E1. These changes have affected the Freedom Rating in Mozambique and aggravated the situation of both political rights and civil liberties in the country.
To compare the levels of democracy, the Economist Intelligent Unit’s Democracy Index was used. In this index, a country is rated according to 5 parameters: electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties. Mozambique was given 4.02 points out of 10,00 points (most democratic) in 2016. However, a ten-year comparison shows that 2016 is the lowest democracy rating since 2006, when Mozambique ranked 5.28 points, and that, apart from the year of 2008, Mozambique has progressively and increasingly become less democratic. Please see appendix E.
By combining the Freedom House’s Freedom Rating and the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index with the number of elections to date, it was possible to see the evolution of democracy in Mozambique in Figure 9. The years of 2008, 2010 and 2016 were used as bookmarks of these comparisons because they translate the changes in the Freedom Rating, from both civil liberties and political rights. The purpose of this was to verify the intrinsic value of elections and the consequent democratic advancements or regressions.
Figure 9 – Elections, Freedom Rating and Democracy Index
“Attempting to predict the likelihood of democratic consolidation in Africa states is indeed a ‘journey without maps’” (Wiseman, 1995: 299)
“Do Africans still want democracy?” According to Mattes and Bratton (2016) in the 2016 Afrobarometer round 6 report, the answer is yes. However, this report seems to indicate a short-term democratic recession in Africa. Yet the authors consider that “from a longer-term perspective both demand and supply (of democracy) are higher than before” and “recent setbacks in popular democratic attitudes should be viewed in the broader context of generally positive long-term gains” (Mattes & Bratton, 2016: 22). The issue is that an optimistic trend cannot be supported by the fact that popular demand for democracy only increased in 10 of 34 countries, decreased in 14 countries and remain unchanged in 10 countries (Mattes & Bratton, 2016: 2). Furthermore, Mozambique has ranked in the bottoms of several variables and democratic indicators. And yet, ten years ago, Mozambique had reached its democratic peak with great expectations of future democratic improvements.
Here are the conclusions that can be drawn from this study:
- Democracy has a mainly positive meaning for Mozambicans, even if a significant number of people don’t know.
The most significant meaning of democracy is civil liberties and personal liberties (40%), and other positive meanings. However, 1 out of 3 respondents didn’t know what democracy meant for them and didn’t attribute any meaning. This shows how Democracy is an artificial idea to Mozambicans today. Seeing Democracy as something artificial and alienating that people don’t understand can be related to the artificial introduction of a democratic system in the country, through foreign intervention. If twenty years was not enough to spread democratic values amongst people and to shape their political attitudes, issues can be raised of the length of this process of ‘naturalisation’ of (and transitioning to) democracy, if it will ever end in consolidation.
- Mozambicans want democracy, but demand is the lowest it has ever been in the country
There has been a general decrease of pro-democratic attitudes in Mozambique in the last ten years. Demand is higher than supply of democracy, even if both have suffered a decline in the last ten years. The perceived supply of democracy has reached extremely low levels in ten years. A way to explain this is by looking at one party dominance that make people feel like they don’t have a choice and like they don’t have a say in politics. That can be the reason why the satisfaction with democracy is very limited among Mozambicans. But having Mozambicans a low demand for democracy, it seems that putting more efforts into democratic reforms won’t change anything. In fact, international pressure towards political reform (from western liberal democracies), might not be what people want.
- Repeated elections don’t necessarily make a nation more democratic
Holding more elections, from 2008 to 2016, didn’t make Mozambique more democratic. Citizens can become voters but not necessarily democrats. It seems that democratising by elections is indeed a lengthy process, but won’t not guarantee that it will lead to a liberal democracy or to democratic improvements at all.
The introduction of provincial elections didn’t improve Mozambique’s democracy. Regionalization could be the path to a more democratic and peaceful Mozambique since opposition claims regionalization can improve country and end fighting by decentralising the power of the ruling party FRELIMO.
- Mozambique is challenging the big democratic trend
While other African countries are becoming more democratic, Mozambique is becoming less democracy and people’s attitudes towards democracy have decreased. This can be explained by several reasons. The first is that the recent rise of violence due to lack of power sharing and abuse of power from the current government. The second reason is that most efforts to democratise Mozambique happen through institutional redesigns and reforms and not by raising awareness amongst Mozambicans or educating responsible and active citizens. By despising the importance of public opinion, which in the past was fundamental in pro-democratic movements in Africa, a very important part of democracy is missing – the democrats. To create democrats, there needs to be education for responsible and active citizenship, education for political matters and education for a more active role from the civil society – to change the country’s political culture. If the government only invests in its structures, but not in its people, democracy will still be inadequate and people will feel alienated from it.
- Transition not consolidation
“Is Mozambique’s democracy on the road to consolidation?” (Manning, 2002: 63). Since the country has not improved democratically with more elections and that a change of ruling party to another has never occurred in twenty years, it seems that Mozambique still makes sense to be analysing at the light of the transitional paradigm. It seems inadequate to speak about consolidation in Mozambique for now.
Regarding the methodology, I’d like to say that replication of study might seem limited due to the scope conditions of this research. However, the existing data on other African countries would allow further testing of the present hypothesis and theories. After all, Mozambique’s story could be the story of most African countries – a democratic system, introduced by a third-party with and a peace-keeping mission, in constant re-evaluation of governance, economy and democracy levels.
Finally, because attitudes exist within a context, this article offers an opportunity to reflect upon the evolution of the political system in an African country and how these attitudes shape the political system at the same that they are a product of it. How long will it take until people accept democracy and incorporate its ideals or would it always be an alienating expression and a foreign system to the African people?
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“The Surprising Significance of African Elections” (2006), By Staffan I. Lindberg, Journal of Democracy, Vol. 17, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 139-151.
Questionnaire Round 6 Mozambique, Afrobarometer, http://afrobarometer.org/sites/default/files/questionnaires/Round%206/moz_r6_questionnaire_en.pdf
Code book round 6 Mozambique, Afrobarometer http://afrobarometer.org/sites/default/files/data/round-6/moz_r6_codebook_eng.pdf
Freedom Rating (FR), Civil Liberties (CL) and Political Rights (PR) Index, Freedom House, https://freedomhouse.org/country/mozambique
Democracy Index, The Economist Intelligence Unit, https://infographics.economist.com/2017/DemocracyIndex/
- Meaning of Democracy
|Meaning of democracy|
|This question allows multiple answers|
|Base=2400; Weighted results||Number of cases||%/Total Respondents|
|Nothing/Democracy has no meaning||2||0.1|
|Civil liberties / personal freedoms||992||41.4|
|Government by, for, of the people / popular rule||100||4.2|
|Voting / elections / multiparty competition||110||4.6|
|Peace / unity / power sharing||802||33.4|
|Social / economic development||212||8.8|
|Equality / justice||209||8.7|
|Governance / effectiveness / accountability / rule of law||72||3|
|National independence / people’s self determination||107||4.5|
|Other positive meanings||36||1.5|
|Conflict / confusion||11||0.5|
|Corruption / abuse of power||16||0.6|
|Social / economic hardship||5||0.2|
|Other negative meanings||8||0.3|
|Civilian politics / government||7||0.3|
|Change of government / leadership / laws||27||1.1|
|Other null/neutral meanings||16||0.7|
|Don’t know / Did not understand the question||871||36.3|
- Demand for Democracy
- Reject one-party rule
- Reject military rule
- Reject one-man rule
- Support for Democracy
- Demand and Supply
|Column1Z||R2 2002/2003||R3 2005/2006||R4 2008/2009||R5 2011/2012||R6 2014/2015|
|DEMAND FOR DEMOCRACY||47.5||51.75||58||58.75||43.25|
|SUPPLY OF DEMOCRACY||60.5||60.5||52.5||46||32.5|
- Freedom Rating
- Years of changes: 2008, 2010 and 2016
- Democracy Index 2006-2016
- Combined Elections, Freedom Rating and Democracy Index