Trends in satisfaction with democracy in South Africa

Just over half of the population (51%) is unsatisfied with the state of democracy in South Africa, and only 33% were satisfied with the way democracy is working, according to the latest findings of the South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS), conducted annually by the Human Sciences Research Council since 2003. This is the lowest recorded level of satisfaction with democracy since the establishment of the SASAS series.

One of the most important indicators of support for any country’s political system is how satisfied its citizens are with democracy and is one of the most common measures of political support for democracy employed in survey research.

Since 2003, SASAS has included in its surveys a set of measures concerning political support in which the satisfaction with democracy has been included as a core item.

The number of respondents in each survey from 2003 to 2013 ranged between 2 500 and 3 300. The latest survey round, which was conducted between October and December 2013, consisted of a representative sample of 2 885 respondents living in private residencies. The specific question asked of respondents was as follows: ‘How satisfied or dissatisfied are you with the way democracy is working in South Africa?’, with responses captured on a five-point scale ranging from ‘very satisfied’ to ‘very dissatisfied’.

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