Popular Support for Multi-Party Democracy in Tanzania: Why is it Declining?

Bernadeta Killian


This article sets out to address one question:  What accounts for the declining trend of support for multi –party democracy among the Tanzanian public? Analysis of citizens’ perceptions indicates an increased level of dissatisfaction with government performance.  Equally important is the pervasiveness of a dominant-party system in which despite the existence of a de jure multi-party competitive system, in reality, only one party has a chance to rule.  Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the nationalist party that led the struggle for independence and the sole party for over three decades, still maintains its predominance even amidst multi-party competitive elections.  As citizens become disillusioned with the performance of CCM’s government while opposition parties do not seem to offer an effective alternative, citizens’ support for multi-party democracy may be at risk.  This declining trend of popular support for democracy may begin to signal the fact that after more than a decade of democratic experiment in Africa, it is more likely that citizens’ expectations of democracy now go far beyond just delivery of political goods.  Other elements may prove to be equally important for the generation of popular support for democracy.

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