Are Namibians interested in politics? Asked how interested they were in public affairs, 59 percent of respondents to the Afrobarometer survey said they were either somewhat or very interested. The remaining 41 percent said they were not at all interested or not very interested. The fact that just over 40 percent seem to have little interest in politics appears to go against recent turnout figures for national elections with over 80 percent of the registered electorate voting in 2004.
Some 39 percent of respondents said they never discuss politics with their family and friends, while only 19 percent said they talk about political issues ‘frequently’.
The lack of interest in politics is generally higher among women than men – 34 per cent of men were very interested in public affairs as compared to 25 percent of women. However, people living in urban areas were slightly less interested in politics than their rural counterparts - 17 percent of urban dwellers discuss politics frequently compared to 20 percent of rural dwellers.
The lack of interest in politics does not correlate with the answers to questions about the level of political freedom in Namibia. For instance, only 11 percent of respondents said they were not at all free or not very free to join any political organisation with 66 percent saying they were completely free.
The results could indicate growing apathy about politics in Namibia, particularly among younger sections of the population. Some 33 percent of the 18-24 age group interviewed for the Afrobarometer said they were ‘not at all’ interested in public affairs. In view of possible apathy among younger voters it will be interesting to observe whether turnout at the forthcoming election is down or up. On the other hand, we may not know as a large part of this age group may not even bother to register to vote.
The Afrobarometer is a public opinion survey of 1,200 Namibians with a margin of error of three percent. The last survey took place in November 2008. For more on the Afrobarometer see: