Democracy Governance and Service Delivery
New book announcement
Written by the HSRC's Prof Narnia Bohler-Muller, Dr Michael Cosser and Gary Pienaar is now available from Pretoria University Law Press (PULP), an open-access publisher based at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria.
After the election rallies this past weekend, will voters turn out to cast their ballots on Wednesday? During the campaign, voters have expressed frustration and anger at the inadequate performance of elected representatives, and cynicism about the absence of political leaders from communities between elections. Will constituents’ unhappiness with their socio-economic circumstances and with local leadership affect electoral participation? Do voters continue to believe that democracy can deliver improvements in their daily lives?
Speculation is rife that the ruling party has lost some of its appeal among South Africans, many of whom have grown frustrated with waiting for the promises of a "better life for all". According to some analysts, disillusionment with the ANC has gradually been building over the past few years, with people generally feeling that the ruling party is out of touch with the hardships of ordinary citizens. As a result, analysts have ventured that alignment or “feelings of closeness” to the ruling party has been diminishing. In this article, Jare Struwig, Stephen Gordon and Benjamin Roberts explore alignment with the ruling party over time and also how it compares with other parties.
Despite dissatisfaction with the performance of elected representatives, on balance, South Africans retain confidence in the ability of the democratic system to deliver improvements to their lives and circumstances.
Going into the 2016 Local Government Elections it is clear that voter's alignment, identification or "feelings of closeness" to the party of choice among ANC and DA voter have not shifted dramatically over the past seven years. However, there is evidence that “feelings of closeness” have gradually declined among both ANC and DA supporters. In contrast, "feelings of closeness’’ among supporters of the EFF is much higher compared to supporters of the DA and ANC. Supporters of the EFF therefore align and identify much stronger with the party than DA and ANC supporters. Although it is not in the ambit of this article to speculate about the implications of these findings, research has shown that close alignment with a party of choice impacts on voting intention. Voters that feel more aligned or “close” to a party are much more inclined to cast a ballot in support of their party of choice. Voter turnout during the 2016 Local Government Elections will be closely monitored to determine if this was the case.
Professor Peter Alexander from UJ has been offered the first Honorary Research Fellow position in the Democracy and Governance and Service Delivery programme