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Opposition parties and the voters in South Africa's general election of 1999

Year: 2001
Author: Mattes, Robert
Unit: DARU
Journal: Democratization
Volume: 8
Issue: 3
Pages: 101-128
Abstract:

Variance in partisan choice among South African voters can be predicted on the basis of what is known about the way voters see economic trends, evaluate government performance, perceive political parties, and rate party leaders. However, in this analysis it is demonstrated that factors related to racial divisions shape and filter how voters perceive political performance, and to some extent lead different voters to emphasize different performance criteria. But race does not affect the way voters make decisions. Thus, South Africa's opposition parties are weak not because black voters, the overwhelming majority of the electorate, operate with a decision-making apparatus that emphasizes unity over performances or is hostile to pluralism and opposition. Rather, support for the African National Congress can be accounted for first, by positive ratings of its performance in government and second, by the fact that those black voters dissatisfied with the performance of the African National Congress (ANC) do not see a legitimate alternative among the existing opposition parties.


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