A review of political participation in democratic South Africa

Martin, Lauren Amber (2022-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Political participation by citizens is regarded as a key principle or core component of a democratic system. South Africa is relatively newly democratised country and relies on this participation from its citizens to build legitimacy. Since democratisation, all South Africans (of voting age) have had the opportunity to participate in free and fair elections. Elections and participation in elections (i.e., electoral behaviour) are essential for building legitimacy in a democratic political system, the government and its incumbents. The act of voting is also considered the most popular form of political participation. More recently, empirical evidence reveals a downward trend in electoral behaviour in South Africa. While this trend alone does not necessarily threaten the legitimacy of the political system, it is worrisome that the decline in conventional political participation (such as voting) has been coupled with an increase in more unconventional forms of political protest (such as protest). This study investigates political participation in a democratic South Africa with a focus on conventional and unconventional political behaviour. More specifically, this study identifies the various ways in which South Africans participate in the political system and explores some of the possible explanations for political participation. In order to address the research questions, a comprehensive review of conventional and unconventional political participation in South Africa was conducted, using South Africa as the chosen case study and employing a qualitative desktop analysis method. This study demonstrated that South Africans are largely withdrawing from participating in acts of a conventional nature, which is largely being exhibited in the declining trends of both voter registration and voter turnout. Acts of an unconventional nature, on the other hand, are being employed more often, across broad spectrums of society, and for a myriad of reasons. The most popular form of unconventional political behaviour, protest action, has increasingly become a prevalent mechanism in the South African political landscape and is not likely to dissipate any time soon.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Politieke deelname deur landsburgers word beskou as 'n kardinale komponent van 'n demokratiese sisteem. Suid Afrika is 'n redelik jong gedemokratiseerde land, en maak staat op hierdie deelname van haar burgers om kredietwaardigheid op te bou. Sedert demokrasie, het alle Suid Afrikaners van stemgemagtigde ouderdom die reg tot deelname aan vrye en regverdige verkiesings. Verkiesings en deelname aan verkiesings (i.e. verkiesingsgedrag) is noodsaaklik om kredietwaardigheid in 'n demokratiese politiese sisteem, die regering en sy posbekleers op te bou. Deelname aan 'n verkiesing word ook beskou as die mees gewilde vorm van politieke deelname. Meer onlangs egter, dui empiriese bewyse op n afwaartse neiging in verkiesingsgedrag in Suid Afrika. Alhoewel hierdie neiging alleen nie noodwendig die kredietwaardigheid van die politieke sisteem bedreig nie, is dit kommerwekkend dat die afname in konvensionele politieke deelname (soos om te stem), gepaard gaan met onkonvensionele vorme van politieke deelname (soos in proteste). Hierdie navorsingsstudie ondersoek politieke deelname in 'n demokratiese Suid Afrika met 'n fokus op konvensionele en onkonvensionele politieke gedrag. Meer spesifiek, identifiseer hierdie studie dan die verskeie maniêre waarop Suid Afrikaners deel het aan die politieke sisteem, en dit verken ook sommige van die moontlike verduidelikings vir politieke deelname. Ten einde die navorsingsvrae aan te spreek, was 'n omvattende resensie van konvensionele en onkonvensionele politieke deelname in Suid Afrika uitgevoer, deur Suid Afrika as die gekose gevallestudie, en 'n kwalitatiewe lessenaar-gebonde analitiese metodiek te gebruik. Hierdie studie demonstreer dat Suid Afrikaners besig is om grootliks te onttrek van politieke deelname op die konvensionele manier, wat duidelik ten toon gestel word in die dalende neigings van beide stemregistrasies en kiesersopkoms. Dade van 'n onkonvensionele aard, aan die ander kant, word meer gereeld ingespan, oor n bree spektrum van die samelewing, en vir 'n magdom van redes. Die mees gewilde vorm van onkonvensionele politiese deelname, naamlik protesaksie, het toenemend 'n oorheersende meganisme in die Suid Afrikaanse politieke landskap kom word, en sal heel waarskynlik nie binnekort van die politieke landskap verdwyn nie.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124548
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