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New CRG-BERCI-Ipsos Poll: An Anxious Electorate Demands Change

A few days ahead of presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congo Research Group (CRG) at New York University is publishing simultaneous political opinion polls conducted by Bureau d’études, de Recherches, et de Consulting International (BERCI), and Ipsos South Africa with its partner GeoPoll. The polls reveal an electorate eager for change. A large majority supports the opposition; Martin Fayulu, one of these opponents, is the clear favorite to win elections if they are free and fair. A large majority of voters, however, fears that elections will trigger violence and many say they will not accept the results if the ruling majority’s candidate wins.

While both polling firms used the same questionnaire, their methodology differed slightly. BERCI sampled from a list of 2,000 phone numbers it had obtained through a randomized face-to-face nationwide poll together with CRG in 2016 of 7500 household across from 469 urban and rural sites. Ipsos/GeoPoll selected respondents through a Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methodology, reaching 902 persons aged 18 years old and above from a 1,5 million nationwide database of Congolese phone numbers. While both polls reached broadly similar conclusions, there were also differences. In the text we present the average of the two polls, which we also list in parentheses.

The full report can be found  here. The major conclusions are:

  • If elections are free and fair, an opposition candidate would be almost certain to win the presidency. According to our survey, Martin Fayulu is clearly the favorite, with 47% (BERCI: 45%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 49%) of the intended vote, ahead of 24% for Felix Tshisekedi (BERCI: 28%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 20% ); and 19% (BERCI: 20%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 18%) for Emmanuel Shadary.
  • Fayulu achieved a clear majority in most of the 26 provinces, with the exception of Ituri, Sankuru and Maniema, which favored Shadary, and South Kivu, Kasai Central, Kasai, Kasai Oriental and of Upper Lomami, where a majority supported Tshisekedi. This is a remarkable rise in popularity for a politician who was little known outside of Kinshasa a year ago.
  • The potential for violence is extremely high. A few days before the CENI postponement, 48% of respondents (BERCI: 65%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 30%) said they would “most certainly and/or probably” protest against rigged elections. An alarming percentage of respondents (BERCI: 63%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 43%) indicated that they would not accept the results if Shadary won, and 53% (BERCI: 63%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 43%) do not trust courts to fairly resolve electoral disputes.
  • This survey, like previous ones, reveals a politically aware and motivated electorate. 98% of respondents (identical for BERCI and Ipsos/GeoPoll) registered to vote in the next elections and among these, 91% (BERCI: 90%, Ipsos/GeoPoll: 92%) and 98% (BERCI: 97% Ipsos/GeoPoll: 98%) intend to vote in the legislative and presidential elections.