The South African Elections: Incumbency and Uncertainty

The 2019 South African elections marked the country’s sixth iteration of free
and fair electoral contests since its democratisation in 1994. Although the
outcome gives the African National Congress (ANC) yet another five-year
mandate, the party has not gone unchallenged at the polls. It registered its
lowest national vote share since the transition, a major concern for the party
of liberation. The most recent contest also demonstrates the resilience of the
main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the continued
upward trajectory of its closest rival, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
In this article, we analyse available survey data on South Africans’ attitudes
and offer some empirical answers to account for the election results. We argue
that race continues to feature prominently in electoral decision-making but
it does so in ways that deviate slightly from conventional wisdom. Further,
we put forth an explanation that the parties’ leaders played a central role
in shaping citizens’ voting behaviour, especially among their own partisan

File Type: pdf
Categories: Journal of African Elections
Tags: elections, electoral politics, party politics, South Africa, voting behaviour
journal of african elections vol18 number 2 transparent democratic governance in africa