Survey Finds 47 Percent of Young South Africans May Not Vote in Elections | Freedom House

Survey Finds 47 Percent of Young South Africans May Not Vote in Elections

Johannesburg, South Africa

Photo Caption: South African youths registering to vote February 2014. Photo Credit: HelenOnline

A Freedom House survey finds that 47 percent of South Africans between the ages of 18 and 34 may not vote in national and provincial elections on May 7. The survey, conducted via mobile phones from March 17-24, also finds that nearly two in three of those surveyed do not understand how South Africa’s proportional representation system works.

“This research shows that many young people in South Africa are losing faith in the democratic process,” said Cathal Gilbert, project director for southern Africa. “To restore confidence in the importance of every individual’s vote, it is crucial that the Independent Electoral Commission works in partnership with civil society and political parties to ensure that young voters are enabled to participate fully – not just in the upcoming elections, but as active citizens throughout the electoral cycle.”

The survey of 1,288 persons, conducted by the Pondering Panda polling organization via the Mxit social media network, has a margin of error of 3 percent. Findings include:

  • 53 percent of those surveyed say “yes, I am definitely voting” in this year’s elections. 34 percent say they will not vote, while 13 percent are undecided.
  • The percentages of those intending to vote are similar in the 18-24 and 25-34 age brackets. Kwa-Zulu Natal (63.5 percent) records the highest number of people intending to vote, Limpopo (47.3 percent) the lowest.
  • 60 percent of respondents do not understand the proportional representation (PR) electoral system used for national and provincial elections. Amongst those not planning to vote, 72 percent says they do not understand PR.
  • A majority of those surveyed were not aware that they had a Member of Parliament (53 percent) or a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL) (55 percent) representing them. Of those aware of these representatives, most said that their MP had not visited or spoken in their community.
  • Young South Africans’ preferred method of receiving information on elections is via mobile phones: 26 percent of people intending to vote prefer to receive information via phones, mobile internet and apps. Watching television, computer-based internet and radio are the next three most popular choices.
  • Asked how people make their voice heard, 36 percent responded that they use social media like Facebook, Twitter and Mxit. Attendance at political group meetings and going to municipality offices were each cited by 21 percent. Another 28 percent said that they had not done anything to make their voices heard.

All respondents were between the ages of 18-34. 50 percent of respondents were male and 50 percent female. 81 percent of respondents were black, 9 percent white, 8 percent coloured and 2 percent Indian/Asian.

For more detailed information on the methodology and results, click here.

South Africa is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2014, Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013, and Free in Freedom on the Net 2013.

To learn more about South Africa, please visit:
Blog: What Do South Africans Say about Mandela, Politics, and the Future?
Looking Ahead after 20 Years of South African Democracy
Freedom in the World 2013: South Africa
Freedom of the Press 2013: South Africa
Freedom on the Net 2013: South Africa
Blog: 10 Positive Developments in Africa in 2013

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhousedc) and stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our RSS feedsnewsletter and our blog.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhouse). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter.