Saturday, 10 December 2011

Urban-bias in media and perceptions of elections in Africa

DR Congo is still processing the election results announced yesterday and there are likely to be challenges. Watching the coverage, I began to wonder if an urban-bias could be playing any role in how people perceive things in situations like this. Some of the reports I've been reading seem a little incredulous that Kabila could possibly have won the country (even with only 48%), when Kinshasa seems strongly to have favoured Tshisekedi. The concern seems to be, 'how could anyone have won the country when a city of nearly 10 million people voted for the other guy?' Well, whatever the true result, they could. Emphatically. 65 per cent of the DR Congo is rural. Quite a few outside media reports in the run-up have focused on the mood of the cities, but the cities aren't the only people in the DRC. An awful lot of the country's 71 million people don't live in cities.

Why is it that rural voters so often seem to vote the opposite way to that favoured by international media? I very much doubt it is because all rural people are stupid. Is it possible that international media tend to be biased towards the urban perspective - possibly simply because urban centres produce more information and more information in international languages? It would be interesting to hear what the less urban areas of DR Congo think about this result. They may not live in cities or access international media, but while they're still the majority, they should probably be considered  a factor - it could be their vote that counts.

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