So stated a voter from Richard’s Bay interviewed for Freedom House’s report: 20 Years of Democracy.
futurefact finds a similar sentiment with 58% of South Africans saying that “I am wasting my vote if I don’t vote for the party that’s likely to win”. This rose to 66% among those in the ANC camp and dropped to 38% among those in the DA camp.
Despite comments like: “When we want to pass on our grievances to government they are nowhere to be seen, but when it is time to vote they come running to us and start looking busy” (20 Years of Democracy), it is likely that the majority party will still get the votes from disaffected communities.
Perhaps the belief in only voting for winners explains this behaviour. This phenomenon is known as ‘the bandwagon effect’ where some people vote for those candidates or parties who are likely to succeed (or are proclaimed as such by the media), hoping to be on the ‘winner's side’ in the end.
62% believe strongly (and 27% a little) that they can change things through their vote. So nothing is forever: ruling parties need to adapt to the times and the needs of the people or in the long run risk losing power. Once majorities start dropping off so do the voters: a good example is Zambia where former ruling parties (UNIP and UPND) are either extinct or marginal. Kenya’s KANU which ruled for 40 years before being ousted suffered a similar fate and is now part of a patched together coalition party. And where is our very own National Party within its previous constituency?
So it seems many people will keep voting for the winning party UNTIL its majority starts to slide... they won’t initiate change but could switch once they’ve seen how the wind is blowing. This is how winners, over time, can become losers. Will this be South Africa in 2019?
futurefact has been surveying the attitudes and beliefs of South Africans since 1998. The findings presented above are from futurefact 2013 which is based on a probability sample of 3,025 adults aged 15 years and over, living in communities of more than 500 people throughout South Africa representing 21,6 million adults. If you would like to find out more about futurefact and its extensive attitudinal databases please contact Jos Kuper 082 904 9939 or check out www.futurefact.co.za