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Title:Race and ethnicity: voters' party preference in South African elections
Author:Anyangwe, CarlsonISNI
Periodical:International Journal of African Renaissance Studies (ISSN 1818-6874)
Geographic term:South Africa
race relations
ethnic identity
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/18186874.2013.774697
Abstract:Genuine, periodic, free and fair elections are one of the key defining features of a vibrant multiparty democracy. They provide a public mechanism for regular peaceful institutional competition for power and the opportunity for people to change, review or legitimize government through their freely expressed will. This article interrogates the behaviour of South African voters using a qualitative analysis of available studies covering the national and provincial elections held in 1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009, and the municipal election of 2011. One of the notable trends is that while the number of registered voters keeps increasing, voter turnout is on the decrease. There are other salient observable trends but they are not the focus of the article. For the purposes of the article the first conclusion is that among the various competing variables influencing voters' choice of a particular political party in South African public elections, the race issue, however weak some might suggest it is, still looms large and is a dominant factor despite denials by some researchers. Second, in contrast to what obtains in many other African countries, ethnic identity has only a marginal influence on South African voters. This second conclusion should however not be regarded as cast in stone, given the ever-changing dynamic nature of people's identity and behaviour as well as the election campaign strategies of participating political parties and the role of the media. Given that there is a complex interrelatedness of ethnic and racial identity and interests, the electorate might well be more sophisticated than many realize. Bibliogr., sum. [Journal abstract]