Die erosie van kiesersvertroue as faktor in die kontemporêre Suid-Afrikaanse demokrasie (1994-2017)
Internationally, voter trust in political systems is recognized as key to successful democratic governance and the effective co-ordination of collective interaction between government and civil society. For the purpose of the study, it is inferred that voter trust is largely based on the ability of the government to bring about successful transformation in a developmental society – within a period of time. Voter trust in the ANC showed increased levels in the first decade of democracy. However, after 2004 levels of voter trust started eroding in both the ANC and the South African democracy as a whole. In order to identify the nature and causes of this phenomenon, the central theoretical statement focuses on two main points: the declining relevance of the liberation struggle, and the failure of the ANC government to effectively implement election promises in the procedural and substantive dimensions of the democracy. Based on these guidelines, the purpose of the study is to identify the causes of the erosion of voter trust at macro, meso and application (micro) levels of the democracy, and to establish the influence it had on the ruling party and democratic consolidation in SA in Period 2 (2005-2017). From a theoretical standpoint the study focuses qualitatively on various liberal-democratic principles such as the social contract as the foundation of the democratic constitution, with emphasis on the possible interventional role of the state in the transformational process from autocracy to constitutional democracy. The effect of the legacy of colonialism and apartheid on political and socio-economic development in SA as a democracy in transition was investigated. In support of this narrative, the failure of democratic consolidation in most of the sub-Sahara African states was evaluated to gain a better understanding of what theoreticians regard as the „third wave‟ of democracy. Comparisons were drawn between the capacity of liberation movements as governments in Africa and other successful developmental democracies. The paternalistic mind-set and limitations in the leadership abilities of the transitional governments, elected to establish successful democratic regimes, formed part of the critical discussion and the results interpreted as probable reasons for the delay in democratic consolidation in SA. To illustrate the trajectory of the erosion in voter trust, voting patterns from the post-1994 period were evaluated. The analysis of the national/provincial and municipal elections in SA was divided into two periods namely 1994 to 2004 (Period 1) and 2005 to 2017 (Period 2). The results of various analytical studies regarding voting patterns were applied to substantiate the theory that the trajectory of voter trust in the ANC government in Period 1 reflected an increase, as compared to the erosion thereof in Period 2. The analysis of voting patterns, especially under the “born free” generation, revealed voter apathy, low political efficacy and the erosion of trust in the governing party, leaders, institutions and democratic processes. The study reveals that participation of the VAP in elections in Period 1 was already on a downward trajectory since 1999 through to 2016. Urbanisation and the change in sosio-economic needs of voters, as well as the ideological shift in their viewpoint from democratic ideals (freedom and equality) to bread and butter issues, coupled with the government‟s inability to eliminate poverty, rendered the election message of liberation and the ANC as the only legitimate government, increasingly irrelevant in Period 2. Analysis of the implementation of election promises, as stipulated in the ANC manifestos, shows that there were successes at procedural level in terms of the establishment of democratic institutions but that the ANC was mostly ineffective in its management thereof, and failed in the implementation of socio-economic and interventional programmes and policies. The appearance of corruption, clientelism, maladministration, and state capture, contributed to the erosion of voter trust, not only in the ANC, but also in democratic institutions. The study has found that voter trust in the democracy follows a dynamic process where political (moral) trust is initially high, shifting to institutional (economic trust) in the transitional phase in an equal balance with interpersonal (social) trust, as democratic consolidation and acceptance of democratic principles (as the only legitimate form of government) are established. Delay in democratic consolidation places the focus on interpersonal trust as voters become more concerned over issues such as basic service delivery, poverty alleviation, housing and jobs. The researcher is of the opinion that a disturbance in the balance of voter trust negatively affects democratic consolidation. All three dimensions of voter trust are required in an equal balance for the democracy to consolidate successfully within a period of time. Finally recommendations are made as well as an outlook towards trends in voter trust in the lead up to the 2019 national /provincial elections.
- Humanities