The Changing Levels of Diffuse and Specific Support in South Africa amongst ANC supporters: A longitudinal Study

Bosoga , Tebogo (2009-03)

Thesis (MA (Political Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During the so-called third wave of democratisation, South Africa experienced a transition from authoritarian rule to democratic rule in 1994. This transition was coupled with a transformation process, which saw the establishment and introduction of democratic principles and norms, as well as democratic institutions. All these make South Africa a democracy in theory but do not necessarily mean that it is a democracy in practice. Moreover, democracy, unlike authoritarian rule, depends on the support of the populace. Lack of support for democratic rule renders the regime illegitimate, since it does not have enough support to continue as the authority of the country. Against the theoretical point of departure (i.e. support for democracy is closely tied to legitimacy of the authority), it is imperative to evaluate these types of support for democracy as well as their changing levels in the country. This will shed some light on whether the populace in the country embrace democracy as a form of governance – that is, whether the populace perceive democracy as a political regime that is entrenched not only in theory, but also in practice. This will be highlighted by their level of support, which determines whether the regime is perceived as legitimate or illegitimate. It will further shed some light on the degree or level of support for the political system governing the country. Support for democracy may be evaluated by using two models or types of support, i.e. diffuse and specific support. Diffuse support consists of three levels of support, namely, political community, regime principles and regime performance, whilst specific support consists of two levels of support, namely regime institutions and political actors. For this study, these models and levels of support are evaluated amongst the supporters of the ruling party, namely the ANC. For comparative purposes, however, support patterns for democracy, as measured in the World Values Surveys from 1995 to 2006, amongst the ANC supporters will be evaluated in relation to non-ANC supporters. These patterns are crucial, since they will highlight whether support for democracy is support for democratic rules and norms, i.e. democracy per se, or whether support for democracy is closely tied to party support and position. The study reveals that there are relatively high levels of support for political community, regime principles and regime performance amongst both the ANC supporters and non-ANC supporters, when compared to levels of support for regime institutions and political actors, meaning that there are high levels of diffuse support when compared to specific support. Moreover, the ANC supporters have higher levels of both diffuse and specific support for democracy when compared to non-ANC supporters.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die 1990‟s gedurende die derde golf van demokratisering in die wêreld, het Suid Afrika ook „n transformasie van „n outoritêre stelsel na „n demokrasie ondergaan. Hierdie transformasie het op die vestiging van demokratiese beginsels en norme sowel as demokratiese instellings uitgeloop. Hoewel dit Suid-Afrika ‟n demokrasie in teorie gemaak het, het dit die stelsel nie noodwendig ‟n demokrasie in die praktyk gemaak nie. Dit is belangrik om in ag te neem dat „n demokrasie, anders as „n outokrasie, die ondersteuning van die bevolking moet geniet. ‟n Gebrek aan genoegsame steun kan daartoe lei dat ‟n regering gesag op ‟n onlegitieme wyse uitoefen. Teen hierdie teoretiese agtergrond is dit dus belangrik om die tipes sowel as die veranderende vlakke van ondersteuning vir demokrasie te evalueer. Sodoende word ‟n insig verkry of die bevolking demokrasie as ‟n vorm van regering nie net in teorie aanvaar nie, maar ook in die praktyk. Die vlak van ondersteuning sal bepaal of die regime as legitiem of onlegitiem beskou word. Dit kan ook verder lig werp op die vlak van ondersteuning vir die politieke selsel wat in plek is. Ondersteuning vir demokrasie kan bepaal word deur gebruik te maak van twee modelle of tipes van ondersteuning, naamlik, verspreide (“diffuse”) en spesifieke (“specific”) ondersteuning. Verspreide ondersteuning bestaan uit drie vlakke van ondersteuning, naamlik, steun vir die politieke gemeenskap, regime beginsels en regime optrede. Spesifieke ondersteuning in teenstelling, bestaan uit twee vlakke van ondersteuning, naamlik steun vir regime instellings en vir die politieke akteurs. Vir hierdie studie is die modelle en vlakke van ondersteuning ge-evalueer met spesifieke verwysing na die ondersteuners van die ANC - die regerende party. Vir ‟n vergelykingsbasis is hierdie ondersteuningspatrone met die nie-ANC ondersteuners soos dit voorkom in die World Values opnames van 1995 tot 2006 gebruik. Hierdie patrone is van kardinale belang omdat dit vir ons ‟n aanduiding gee of ondersteuning vir demokrasie ook die ondersteuning vir demokratiese reëls en norme behels. Die bevindinge dui op relatiewe hoër vlakke van ondersteuning vir die politieke gemeenskap, regime beginsels en regime werkverrigting onder ANC ondersteuners sowel as nie-ondersteuners as dit vergelyk word met vlakke van ondersteuning vir regime instellings en politieke akteurs. Dit beteken dat daar hoër vlakke van verspreide ondersteuning bestaan in vergelyking met spesifieke ondersteuning. Verder is bevind dat ANC ondersteuners hoër vlakke van verspreide sowel as spesifiek ondersteuning vir demokrasie vertoon in vergelyking met nie-ondersteuners van die ANC.

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