The Democracy Development Programme hosted a workshop titled: A Reflection on the Nature of electoral participation, and Interrogation of the Typical South African Voter and their electoral ambitions. Why do so few South Africans vote?
The 2021 local government elections witnessed the lowest turnout for democratic elections in South Africa: just under half of registered voters came to the polls. This reflects a longer trajectory of declining voter turnout, which has been in evidence since at least 2009.
South Africa is not alone in facing declining voter participation. Internationally, this is a trend that has been documented since the 1990s. Nonetheless, falling turnout is a critical barometer of the health of the post-apartheid democratic project. How people vote is a signal of their political and ideological preferences – but whether they vote tells us something about people’s approval or disapproval of the institution of democracy, as they experience it.
Some of the most important topics we will be unpacking include:
What are the motivations for electoral turnout?
What are the issues generally canvassed by political parties ahead of elections?
Determining what the alignment of political party manifestos and the ambitions of South Africans look like?
Unpacking potential strategies to convert non-voters and increase voter registrations
The workshop targeted political party members and representatives and was facilitated by Khanya Vilakazi