Amandla awethu: public attitudes, political participation and South African democracy

SOURCE: State of the Nation South Africa 2016: who is in charge?: mandates, accountability and contestations in the South African state
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2016
TITLE AUTHOR(S): J.Struwig, B.J.Roberts, S.Gordon
SOURCE EDITOR(S): D.Plaatjies, M.Chitiga-Mabugu, C.Hongoro, T.Meyiwa, M.Nkondo, F.Nyamnjoh
KEYWORDS: DEMOCRACY, POLITICS, PUBLIC ATTITUDE
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9041

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Abstract

The intention of this chapter is to use representative survey data to investigate political attitudes and behaviour in South Africa, thereby deepening the collective understanding of South African constitutional democracy. The goal is to provide an account of the speed and direction of change in underlying public democratic values and political behaviour. Firstly, attitudes capturing both the demand for and supply of democracy are reviewed. This will cover political support at different levels, ranging from broad political attachment in the form of national pride, to support for democratic ideals and principles, and evaluations of various areas of political performance. Secondly, given interest in this volume in the mechanisms and channels through which citizens communicate their political voice to those in office, the chapter examines different aspects of political behaviour. The focus will be on trends in electoral participation, abstention and voting attitudes, and engagement in other non-electoral political activities, including protest action. Finally, we conclude with a discussion about the implications of this research for the future legitimacy and accountability of the democratic process in South Africa.