"Campaigning for power, not for the people" : A comparative case study about Cape Town youth and their perceptions of voting
Abstract: The declining political participation among youth has been frequently debated and researched in Western democracies. South Africa is often considered a role model that other African countries can learn from in terms of democracy. The purpose of this study is to investigate how young people in South Africa view voting to understand why turnout among youth is declining. This thesis is based on a field study conducted with two groups from different socioeconomic classes in Cape Town with qualitative in-depth interviews as methodological approach. The thesis has found that the theories developed from previous research on Western democracies, such as political efficacy, alternative value, partisan attachment and socioeconomic status can partly help explain why youth in South Africa do not vote. However, the study has found that these theories does not provide an ideal framework to understand this phenomenon among young people in less developed democracies. Youth in South Africa faces other problems than their counterparts elsewhere. Poverty, distrust towards the politicians and lack of education makes them unable to fully engage in the political process. Other factors such as race and gender also influence the perception of voting, especially among youth in groups with lower socioeconomic status. Thus, turnout in elections can not be used as an only indicator to measure the quality of a democracy.
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