The Decline of the African National Congress in South Africa’s 2016 Municipal Elections

Mogens Kamp Justesen, Collette Schulz-Herzenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Using data from a nationally representative post-election public opinion survey, the article argues that the electoral losses experienced by the African National Congress (ANC) in the 2016 municipal election were a manifestation of an attitudinal shift among the governing party’s traditional support base. ANC vote choice was influenced by a combination of performance-based evaluations of the party at both the national and local levels: namely, a growing trust deficit in the ANC and its leadership, and perceived service delivery failures at the local level. The analysis concludes that poor performance and distrust of incumbents, including a sitting president, can have a significant bearing on voter attitudes and behaviour at elections. Moreover, despite the replacement of Jacob Zuma with President Cyril Ramaphosa in December 2017, the ANC will need to continue to address its internal leadership issues and perceptions of corruption to secure substantial victories in future elections.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Southern African Studies
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1133-1151
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Published online: 23. November 2018


  • South Africa 2016 municipal election
  • Voter behaviour
  • Political trust
  • African National Congress

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