European Political Science

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 469-491

First online:

Democratising the Measurement of Democratic Quality: Public Attitude Data and the Evaluation of African Political Regimes

  • Carolyn LoganAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Michigan State University Email author 
  • , Robert MattesAffiliated withDepartment of Political Studies, University of Cape TownStellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), Wallenberg Research Centre at Stellenbosch University

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Diamond and Morlino (2005) propose a quality of democracy framework that includes eight dimensions, but they restrict use of opinion data to measuring only one of these: ‘responsiveness’. However, we argue that citizen experiences and evaluations are essential pieces of data that may also enable us to capture valid ‘insider’ measures of procedural and substantive dimensions that may be missed by expert judges and macro-level indicators. We develop indicators based on public attitude data for all eight dimensions of democracy. Substantively, this mass perspective on the Quality of Democracy gives us insight into what Africans themselves want out of democracy, and how they prioritise its various components. As we explore the places where citizen and expert evaluations diverge, we conclude that both individual and expert assessments of the quality of democracy deserve to be carefully interrogated. We cannot conclude that either experts or ordinary citizens provide the ‘true’ or ‘correct’ assessment, but rather that both perspectives are essential to fully understanding today's democratic experience, and the shape of the democratic future, on the continent.


democracy public opinion quality of democracy Africa