A nationwide survey of Gambian citizens conducted by JPM Strategic Solutions on behalf of NDI reveals that despite significant social and economic challenges facing The Gambia, citizens feel optimistic about the country’s direction. This optimism is largely driven by newfound democratic freedoms experienced by Gambians including freedom of expression, assembly, movement, and the media. Gambians’ enthusiasm for these new liberties leads 68 percent of citizens surveyed to believe that democracy is the best form of government for The Gambia, just over two years after the historic election of President Adama Barrow that ended over two decades of autocratic rule in The Gambia.
Following the elections, the Gambian government established a Constitutional Review Commission to assess avenues to reform the constitution to better protect the rights of Gambians. Although most Gambians were not aware of the constitutional reform process, the survey found that citizens responded very favorably towards potential reforms when provided information about them. While all potential constitutional reforms are broadly supported, personal freedom reforms have the strongest support among the public. Gambian citizens are split on whether the country needs a new constitution or revisions to the current constitution, highlighting the importance of a refined communications strategy to raise awareness about constitutional reforms and the impact they will have on citizens’ lives. This public opinion research is part of NDI’s program aiming to support an inclusive constitutional reform process in The Gambia, with funding from the National Endowment for Democracy. It is NDI’s hope that this public opinion research will be used to incorporate citizen perspectives into the constitutional reform process.