Mass Attitudes toward ‘One Person, One Vote’ in the Wake of Puntland’s 2024 Electoral Crisis

Governance Briefs

The May 25 local government elections, while flawed in some ways, were widely seen as an important and positive step forward in the realization of democratization in Puntland. In light of events since then, it is reasonable to wonder whether Puntland’s democratization is stalled or if the failure to hold OPOV elections represents backsliding away from direct, democratic elections. Critical – and under-examined in the Puntland context – is the extent of popular support for OPOV elections.

Similarly, throughout public and private discussions of the way forward in this election cycle, expert commentators, analysts, and citizens alike have had to grapple with the tangible tradeoffs between OPOV elections, on one hand, and enforcing other tenets of good governance – e.g., abiding by time-limited terms and respecting freedom of assembly – on the other. Missing from these debates is empirical evidence on the opinions of Puntland’s citizens and their views of these tradeoffs. Rigorous evidence of this kind is important for predicting the likely trajectory of Puntland’s democratization, insofar as citizen preferences impact this trajectory; it is also essential for understanding the depth of democratic principles held by citizens and how they view tradeoffs between beneficial but mutually exclusive ‘goods’ – tradeoffs that are unavoidable in any polity.

In this brief, we report the results of a survey conducted jointly by the Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC), the Sababi Institute, and Somali Public Agenda (SPA) during December and early January. The goal of the study was to understand citizen preferences regarding OPOV elections in Puntland.

This brief is in Partnership with the Sababi Institute and Puntland Development Research Center (PDRC)
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