The demonstrations sweeping Egypt are driven by high public dissatisfaction with levels of freedom and political participation. Public opinion polls from the Gallup Organization in Egypt in 2009 and 2010 rank the country near the bottom of the world on these key measures of democratization.
The most recent Egyptian data from March 2010 finds just 36 percent saying they are satisfied with the freedom available in their country and 61 percent are dissatisfied. That ranks Egypt fourth highest in dissatisfaction among the 151 countries polled by Gallup (only Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cuba and Madagascar showed higher dissatisfaction).
Data from 2009 are almost as bad; 28 percent of Egyptians said that elections in the country are honest and 61 percent said they are not, ranking 37th among countries polled. Another 68 percent said corruption is widespread throughout the government, ranking 86th on the world scale. (Government corruption ranks much higher in other Central African countries.)
There are several relevant Gallup questions that are not asked in Egypt like confidence in the national government, the judiciary, the military and approval of their leadership. The fact that these questions are too sensitive to even ask helps explain the dissatisfaction with the level of freedom.
Perhaps the most striking finding in the 2010 Gallup poll is the fact that only 4 percent of the public said they had voiced their opinion to a public official in the past month. That ranks Egypt dead last among the 151 countries polled.
For more public opinion data on democracy in Egypt see the recent release from the Pew Global Attitudes Project.