When Does the Honeymoon End? Electoral Cycles of Satisfaction With Democracy in Africa

Masaaki Higashijima, Nicholas Kerr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Scholars have argued that multiparty elections have a profound and immediate influence on mass evaluations of political support. However, what is less clear is whether the effects of elections are short lived or long lasting. Investigating dynamic effects of elections on mass perceptions of political regimes has profound implications on popular foundations of democratic consolidation in an era of democratic backsliding. This article examines electoral cycles in citizens' satisfaction with democracy (SWD)—an important dimension of political support—in multiparty regimes. First, we argue that proximity to elections enhances SWD because campaigns and elections include several processes that reduce the costs and increase the benefits of citizen engagement with the political system. This results in a bell-shaped relationship between citizens' proximity to elections and SWD. Second, we contend that electoral cycles in SWD should vary by the quality of elections and citizens' winner/loser status. We examine these hypotheses using Afrobarometer data in 34 multiparty regimes between 1999 and 2015 finding compelling support. SWD is higher among respondents surveyed closer to elections, while electoral cycles in SWD are more prominent among winners and around low-quality elections.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • African politics
  • democratization
  • electoral integrity
  • satisfaction with democracy
  • winner/loser effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations


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