Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – A public opinion poll released today by IRI shows general optimism for the direction of the country and strong support for democracy. However, Ivorian citizens clearly note their concerns related to national reconciliation, the inclusion of youth in politics and the economy. To IRI, the results also suggest a need for increased civic and political education on principles of democratic governance and the roles and responsibilities of various branches of government.
Progress in National Reconciliation but Issues Remain
Respondents report notable progress in both national reconciliation (56 percent) and local reconciliation (69 percent) efforts since the 2010/2011 post-election political crisis, during which disputed election results triggered a protracted and violent struggle within the country. However, nearly half (49 percent) believe justice for crimes and human rights violations committed during the post-election crisis has not been served to all Ivorians. Of those who feel justice has been inadequate, 68 percent report feeling this way because there has been no compensation for the victims. Further demonstrating that reconciliation efforts still require resources and attention, only 37 percent of Ivorians approve of the job the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission is doing.
Youth Lacking Representation
Of Ivorians interviewed, 62 percent responded that the needs and views of youth (defined as those 35 years and younger) are not being heard or met by politicians. With more than 57 percent of the population 35 years old or younger, youth are critical to Côte d’Ivoire’s future democratic and economic development. Worryingly, more than half of respondents (51 percent) aged 18-24 report not being registered to vote. With a presidential election scheduled for October 2015, the number of young Ivorians unprepared or unable to vote could lead to further political marginalization of youth. Of the total number of individuals who indicated they were not registered to vote, most indicate the lack of a voter ID card as the primary reason.
Economic Concerns Prominent, Desire for Democracy Stronger
A combined 71 percent of respondents cited the economy or related concerns as the most important issues facing Côte d’Ivoire today. Specifically, most believed that unemployment (29 percent) was the single most important issue facing the country, followed by: the cost of living (19 percent), poverty (11 percent) and the general state of the economy (11 percent). However, Ivorians are optimistic about the future with 65 percent stating they expect their personal economic situation will improve in the next year. Despite the clear concern for economic prosperity, 63 percent of Ivorians stated that democracy was more important than a prosperous economy.
More Support for Democratic Governance Needed
Though their desire for a democratic system of government is strong, Ivorians seem to lack knowledge on the roles and responsibilities of various actors in a democratic system. Worryingly, citizens believe members of the National Assembly are inaccessible with 62 percent reporting it is not likely or not at all likely that they are able to talk to their member of parliament. Additionally, 50 percent of those surveyed responded that they didn’t know or did not respond when asked, “In your opinion, what is the role of political parties in Côte d’Ivoire?”
IRI conducted the poll in partnership with Global Strategic Partners and Ivorian Services of Studies and Surveys, which conducted face-to-face interviews from April 20-30, 2015 in 19 regions of Côte d’Ivoire. Respondents were a random, nationally representative sample of 1,500 Ivorians, aged 18 years and older. The margin of error does not exceed plus or minus 2.5 percent and the response rate was 81 percent.
The poll was funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.