In the run-up to the 2019 Elections – just one month and one day away – we’re looking at the most recently released data from Afrobarometer. They’re amongst the most reliable pollsters in South Africa, and their data on voting intentions for next month has proved to be a real eye-opener.
It was revealed last November that those who responded to the extensive survey were largely undecided. A whopping 27% of people said they were unsure who they’d vote for just a few months ago. That indecision is still prevalent today, and it’s the reason they’ve forecast the ANC to total just 48% of the vote.
How will South Africans vote in the 2019 Elections?
DA and EFF polling evenly
The figures are, arguably, even more startling for the DA. The main opposition party are registering just 11% of the vote according to Afrobarometer. Their perceived failure is the EFF’s projected success, as the red berets are also on course for an 11% share – almost doubling the support they received during the 2014 Elections.
These numbers may be eye-catching, but they are certainly subject to change. As the campaigns begin to intensify on the final stretch towards Wednesday 8 May, those floating voters are more likely to choose a side. However, don’t discount the role that apathy may play in this year’s crucial vote.
Although the 2019 Elections are being billed as the most important since 1994, there’s still a tide of voters who aren’t too keen on taking part in the democratic process. You can put it down to broken promises, uninspiring politicians or a myriad of other factors, but a majority of the electorate are no longer willing to “fully commit” to any political party.
About 53% of respondents said they don’t feel close to any particular organisation. According to the researchers at Afrobarometer, this trend suggests that vast swathes of registered voters could be easily swayed and have their minds changed before they go to the ballot box:
“Among South Africans willing to say how they’d vote in a hypothetical election, the EFF has pulled even with the DA. Our findings suggest the population is increasingly uncommitted to a particular party and perhaps so disillusioned with service delivery, they question the value of democracy.”
“A majority of South Africans do not feel close to any party, the highest level of nonpartisanship since 2000. Even if many of these ‘non-partisans’ are willing to state a voting intention, they may be open to new information from election campaigns and policy action.”
2019 Elections: Democracy under scrutiny?
In fact, 2019 could well be the year of inaction: Afrobarometer’s poll also played devil’s advocate when it came to gauging the appetite for South Africa’s democracy – it was hardly a triumph for our “new dawn”:
- In total, 62% of people said they would give up democracy altogether if it meant guaranteed security, peace and housing.
- Only 38% of respondents said they trust the Independent Electoral Commission to conduct a fair voting process.
- Only 31% of people though the 2014 Elections were “free and fair”.
The report concludes that political parties contesting the 2019 Elections might do well to focus their campaigns on citizens who are not yet committed to a particular party – most prominently people who are educated, youth, and urban residents – and on plans for providing the services they expect