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Voter fluidity in the 2021 Local Government Elections:

Evidence from five metropolitan municipalities

The 2021 local government elections marked the consolidation of a new era in South African politics. Most crucial were the trends of ANC decline and growing abstention. These trends have been growing louder over the past decade, but they reached new proportions in 2021. ANC support dipped below 50%, nationally, for the first time since 1994, with less than half of the registered voting population turning out to vote, and only around a third of all eligible voters casting their votes on Election day. The party of national liberation also fell below 50% in six of the eight metropolitan municipalities, bringing into full bloom a pattern of coalition-building that first began to emerge in 2016. Publication by: Marcel Paret and Martin Bekker
This report examines the voting trajectories of individuals in five metropolitan municipalities: City of Johannesburg, City of Tshwane, eThekwini, City of Cape Town, and Nelson Mandela Bay. It is based on a telephone survey of 3,905 residents in these five municipalities who were eligible to vote in the 2021 local government elections, conducted in the days immediately following the election. The survey asked voters to indicate which party they voted for in the 2021 local government election, as well as who they voted for in the 2016 local government election and the 2019 national government election. Some respondents refused to indicate their voting decisions at some or all of the elections. The sample sizes thus include the following: 2,777 in 2016; 2,787 in 2019, and 2,820 in 2021. The findings presented in this report are representative of the South African population in the five municipalities noted above. They demonstrate growing fluidity within the South African electorate, as indicated by movement between different parties, and by movement from electoral participation to abstention, across the three elections.