Painting by Cheri Samba

Lokuta eyaka na ascenseur, kasi vérité eyei na escalier mpe ekomi. Lies come up in the elevator; the truth takes the stairs but gets here eventually. - Koffi Olomide

Ésthetique eboma vélo. Aesthetics will kill a bicycle. - Felix Wazekwa

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Poll: How the people of North Kivu feel about their government, elections, and the international community

The McCain Institute, with the support of the Howard Buffett Foundation, has soft-released (the report is not on their website, but has been circulated) a public opinion poll of North Kivu. The institute hired pollsters, who interviewed 1,242 people throughout the province between October and November 2014.

There is almost no nationally representative polling done in the Congo––the best respected Congolese pollster BERCI does some polling on Kinshasa( but rarely publishes this), and Patrick Vinck and Phuong Pham have also conducted surveys on security and justice in the eastern Congo. So this McCain poll one of the few rigorous surveys of political opinion in the eastern Congo in recent years.

The poll produced a few striking findings.

Drop in PPRD popularity. The popularity of Joseph Kabila's main PPRD party has plummeted, with those saying they would vote for the PPRD dropping from 38% in 2011 to 11% in 2014 (although 41% are undecided at the moment). The main beneficiary of this has been the opposition UNC party of Vital Kamerhe, which jumped from 14% to 20%. This drop in popularity for the PPRD was evident across all territories of North Kivu, with the lowest ratings for the PPRD in Lubero territory. We should, however, be careful not to extrapolate too much: the PPRD is not Kabila (he heads a coalition of dozens of parties), and North Kivu is not the Congo––during the same period, according to BERCI, Kabila's approval rating in Kinshasa went up from 36 %to 47% of people saying they had a favorable opinion of the president. (That was before the January violence).

2011 elections 

2014 popularity

No faith in the election commission. Overwhelming majorities said they thought the electoral commission was both biased (66%) and incompetent (65%). Nonetheless, 72% said they were likely to vote in the upcoming local elections, although few (17%) thought the results would reflect the will of the people. This is an extremely troubling result, given the importance of the upcoming polls.

Oppose constitutional revisions. Reflecting the dominant opinions of the national political elite, the population polled opposed (77%) revising the constitution to allow Kabila to run for a third term. It also rejected (55%) allowing provincial MPs to be elected indirectly by local council. Indirect elections in the past have been marred by corruption.

Negative view of UN, favorable view of Congolese security forces. Contrary to some depictions in the media, views of the Congolese army (69%) and police (57%) were much more favorable than those of the UN peacekeeping mission (21%)––this may have now changed a bit due to the successive massacres around Beni. Also, western donors do not come out well compared with other countries––compare the favorability of Tanzania (53%), China (43%) with the UK (27%) and the US (24%).

Favorability ratings
Many would like to see more women in positions of power. While a large percentage of men (21%) and women (17%) would not vote for female candidates, large majorities were in favor of creating quotas for women on local councils and for seeing more female candidates in general.

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