Who’s interested in democracy?

According to Google Trends the answer is Ethiopians. Between 2004 and now they score the highest in the search index for the word “democracy,” at least among the English speaking countries of the world. Ethiopians have lived under successive military and quasi-military dictatorships since the overthrow of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974.

It is also interesting to see the relative concentration of searches for the word in eastern and southern Africa compared not only to other regions in Africa but also to the rest of the world. Besides Ethiopia, the other countries in Africa with a high search index have recently had somewhat high levels of political contestation through reasonably competitive elections.

4 thoughts on “Who’s interested in democracy?

  1. Amplifying Mendi’s point, I like where you’re going with this, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to do cross-national comparisons without controlling for linguistic variation—either by limiting the comparison to countries where English is the dominant language or by including similar search terms in other languages. And, if possible, control for variation across countries and time in population size and Internet access, too, although maybe Google Trends already does this.


  2. Yeah, all great points. I guess I was just fascinated by the fact that Ethiopia ranks so highly despite the fact that it is not atop the internet access rate charts.


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