Trust wanes as Liberia holds presidential election — Afrobarometer Survey


By Ere-ebi Agedah Imisi

Ahead of the general election in Liberia this month in which the incumbent President George Weah will seek a second term in office, survey has indicated that the trust of the people in the electoral body has recorded a significant decline compared to the last election in the West African country in 2017.

While majority of Liberians have trust in the voter power, only one-third say they trust the National Elections Commission, NEC which among other things has the responsibility of managing the country’s transition from manual voter registration to the use of a biometric voter registration system.

According to the survey conducted by Afrobarometer, public trust in the NEC has declined by 10 percentage points since 2018, even as a greater number of Liberians believe their last national election was free and fair.

Most however expressed confidence in the secrecy of their ballots and the power of their vote to affect the country’s future.

“Only one-third, 34% of Liberians say they trust the National Elections Commission “somewhat” or “a lot,” a decline of 10 percentage points since 2018.

“Six in 10 citizens say elections do not work well to ensure that members of the House of Representatives (61%) and senators (60%) reflect the views of voters.

“But a majority (55%) think that elections in general (not regarding any particular election) do enable voters to remove elected officials who don’t do what the people want”, Afrobarometer stated while highlighting key findings.

The team in Liberia, led by the Center for Democratic Governance had deployed the interview method to seek response from adult Liberians, numbering over 1,200 from across the country.

Also, over three-fourths, which represents 78% of Liberians are urging political parties who lose election to cooperate with the government, while only 22% say the opposition should instead focus on holding the government accountable.

Similarly, almost three-fourths, which represents 73% of citizens think it is unlikely that powerful people can find out how they voted.

According to the opinion of overwhelming majority of 85% of citizens, the 2017 elections were “completely free and fair” but 59% are of the view that the polls were “free and fair but with minor problems”

Afrobarometer, a pan-African survey research network had previously held surveys in Liberia in 2008, 2012, 2015, 2018, and 2020 in a bid to provide reliable data on the country’s experiences and evaluations of democracy and governance.