A Comparative Case Study of the Voting Behaviour of Poor People in three Selected South African Communities

Despite the growing speculation about the electoral power of poor voters, little
is known about what influences them to vote the way they do and why. Poor
communities are often considered a homogeneous group, with little appreciation
for their agency in making electoral choices. In this paper, comparative data are
shared from a quantitative study undertaken in two selected poor communities
during 2013 in Johannesburg (Riverlea and Doornkop) and a rural community
in the Limpopo province in 2014. Two key factors were explored that might
explain voter preferences, namely identification and loyalty on the one hand,
and on the other clientelism, social grants and vote-buying. Firstly, it was found
that long-term party loyalty and party performance are the main predictors
of voter preferences, irrespective of geographic location. Secondly, in all three
areas, it is unlikely that the majority of poor voters will be persuaded to vote
for a particular party on the basis of receiving food parcels before elections.
Finally, the study showed that one in six voters would consider voting for a
party that provides a social grant, with this trend being most prevalent in the
African communities of Doornkop and Limpopo. Therefore, it could be argued
that social grants can be used as a campaign strategy of gaining (or retaining)
support from grant-holders and could influence the floating vote.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: elections, food parcels, party identification, social grants
journal of african elections vol15 number 1 transparent democratic governance in africa