The Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa (IDCPPA) and the Centre for Social Sciences Research at the University of Cape Town invites you to join us for a special seminar on 18 July 2023 presented by A/Prof Collette Schulz-Herzenberg and Prof Robert Mattes 12:45pm. 

About the Seminar:

It takes two to toyi-toyi: One party dominance and opposition party failure in South Africa’s 2019 national election

Why do dominant parties continue to win elections despite significant governance failures? Scholars of one-party dominant democracies tend locate explanations at the macro-level: manipulation of rules, control over state media, or selective distribution of benefits to supporters. Other scholars emphasize ethnic or religious identities which trump consideration of policy and performance. We employ a multinomial regression model of voter decisions in South Africa’s 2019 general election to explore how the ruling African National Congress managed to secure 58 percent of the vote amidst a massive corruption scandal and waning public services. We find that dissatisfied government supporters do not ignore poor performance, but must perceive a legitimate alternative amongst the opposition before they switch their vote. Otherwise, they exit the electorate. This allows the governing party to win significant proportions of a diminishing electorate. Thus, decisions about whether to vote are not just a result of resources, mobilization or efficacy, but are also rooted in perceptions of governing and opposition parties. Thus, voter turnout and voter choice are [intimately] linked, rather than separate causal processes. Moreover, continued one-party dominance may be as much a function of opposition party failure as it is of government control over rules, rents or resources.


Collette Schulz-Herzenberg is an associate professor in the Political Science department at Stellenbosch University. Schulz-Herzenberg specializes in political behaviour and public opinion research and has contributed to the surging body of scholarship on South African electoral politics. She is also South Africa's country co-investigator on several international research projects, including the Comparative National Elections Project (CNEP) and the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), and is co-editor on several book volumes on South African elections.

Robert Mattes is Professor of Government and Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde, and Honorary Professor at the Institute for Democracy, Citizenship and Public Policy in Africa at the University of Cape Town. His research focusses on the development of democratic attitudes and practices in South Africa and across the continent. He is the co-author author (with Michael Bratton and E. Gyimah-Boadi) of Public Opinion, Democracy and Markets In Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2005) and (with David Denemark and Richard Niemi) of Growing Up Democratic: Does It Make A Difference? (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016) and has authored or co- authored articles in journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Comparative Political Studies, British Journal of Political Science, World Development, Journal of Democracy, Democratization, and Party Politics. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1992).

 18 July 2023
 12:45 - 14:00 SAST
  CSSR Seminar Room



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