Several times recently on this blog (e.g. here) I have referred to Tanzania’s increasingly competitive, and hot, political environment. But I have had to use anecdotes and newspaper articles as evidence that Chadema is challenging CCM as never before. Does the data back this up? Let’s take another look at the Afrobarometer survey series to find out.
Chart 1 – Political party preferences in Tanzania since 2001
The five Afrobarometer public opinion surveys in Tanzania since 2001 have all included a question on political party preferences. In 2001 and 2003, the survey asked respondents which party they felt most connected to. In 2005, 2008 and 2012, they were asked which party’s presidential candidate they would vote for if an election was held the following day. This is a standard opinion poll question that is used all around the world.
We can see that CCM has always been the most popular party, that CUF and particularly TLP were more popular ten years ago than they are now, and that Chadema has emerged since 2005 to become the most popular opposition party.
Chart 2 – Projecting trends forward, to 2015
Looking forward, we can ask what might happen if CCM’s popularity continues to decline and Chadema’s to rise. In this chart, I have projected forward the figures to 2015, using the highly unscientific method of following the same path as from 2008 to 2012.
It’s not precise, it’s not even a prediction, it’s just an indication of how Tanzanian politics might develop over the next couple of years. And there are plenty of things that could happen between now and the next election that could make this look very wrong. But it does explain why I and others have been saying that we might have a very close race in 2015.
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About the data
This is the first in a series of blogposts based on the Afrobarometer survey data – some of the best available data on public opinion across the continent. It’s a rich and detailed dataset, and has an excellent online data analysis tool. Data for the 2012 survey was collected in Tanzania by REPOA under the direction of an impressive list of partners running the programme Africa-wide.