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Afrobarometer Summer School and Conference in Benin

9 August 2013

Today I’m flying to Benin to teach at the Afrobarometer Summer School, organized this year by Leonard Wantchekon. The course I’m teaching is on Ethnic Politics. Because of the tie to the Afrobarometer, I’ve selected for discussion three papers published recently — or in the case of one, forthcoming — that use Afrobarometer data.

I’ll also be attending a related conference, “Democracy and Governance in Africa: Lessons From Afrobarometer Surveys.” Students participating in the conference and summer school are from both American and African institutions. Some abstracts of the research to be presented (by graduate students) at the conference are available online. Here is a sample:

Sall, Ibrahima. “Trust in elected public officials in Senegal.”
The 2000 presidential elections were a turning point in the political trajectory of Senegal. Indeed, Senegal experienced its first political alternation in 2000. This peaceful political alternation brought Abdoulaye Wade to power. It also made Senegal enter the ranks of stable democracies in Africa This political change was hopeful. During the 2007 elections, Abdoulaye Wade was elected to a second term with a comfortable majority. However, within a few years, trust in political institutions dropped significantly. This article examines the key factors that led to the decline of trust in institutions using two rounds of Afrobarometer data. The results show that there is no significant relationship between poverty and trust in elected public officials. But trust in elected public officials is positively correlated with the country’s macroeconomic conditions. Corruption has a negative effect on trust in elected public officials. Interpersonal trust is positively correlated with trust in elected public officials. Media exposure has a negative effect on trust in political institutions. Satisfaction with democracy positively affects trust in elected public officials.

It turns out I’m going to Benin at a very interesting time. Just yesterday, the president, Boni Yayi, dissolved his cabinet. It is unclear as to why, though one headline said it was to “push poverty measures.” I’ve copied a few comments from the Twittersphere about Yayi’s decision.

Maggie Dwyer’s tweet mentions two recent coup plots, which authorities in Benin have claimed to have foiled before endangering the president.

There has been some dissatisfaction with President Yayi, manifesting in protests in the capital city, Cotonou, every Wednesday since mid-July.

I haven’t followed politics in Benin very closely until now, but hope to share more as things develop, pending a reliable internet connection when I arrive.

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