The IEC’s focus on motivating young people in South Africa to register to vote in May this year is very necessary, as only six in every ten (61%) between the ages of 18 and 24 are already registered to vote. This will be the first opportunity for many of this age group to have a direct influence on the democracy and administration of their country and the low registration is concerning.
This group of currently registered young people form only 17% of all registered voters in the country, whereas they make up a comparatively much larger proportion of the population. These are some of the findings of the latest Ipsos 6-monthly “Pulse of the People™” study, conducted at the end of 2018.
South Africa demonstrates significant policy uncertainty about important issues and our economy continues to not show growth; and these are likely some of the factors that lead to South African discontent with the direction the country is heading in.
Only about three in ten (29%) South African adults (15 years and older) believe that the country is going in the right direction. Young South Africans of voting age share this opinion with less than a third (31%) of 18-24 year olds believe the country is going in the right direction.
What about the overall direction the country is heading in?
|All South Africans 15+
|18-24 year olds
|Going in the right direction||29||31|
|Going in the wrong direction||51||48|
The traditional association of youth and optimism sadly does not apply in this scenario: currently just over half (53%) of 18-24 year olds feel optimistic about 2019, while the corresponding figure for the general population is marginally higher at 55%.
Party Support amongst the youth
Although just over a third (35%) of 18-24 year olds who are already registered to vote said that there was no political party that represented their views, many of them did indicate which party they would choose if a national election were held the next day:
Political parties of choice of 18-24 year olds :
|Will not vote||2|
|Refuse to answer||4|
*This includes the other political parties chosen or mentioned by respondents.
The majority chose the ANC as their party of choice, followed by the EFF and the DA.
Trust in political parties
The opinions above are closely associated with trust in different political parties. Respondents were asked to indicate whether they are “Extremely likely to trust” or “Very likely to trust” a party, versus an opinion that they are inclined “neither to trust nor distrust” the party, “Not very likely to trust” or “Not at all to trust” the party. By subtracting the proportion of negative answers from the total of positive answers, we can establish the “trust index” for each party amongst the youth age group.
|Nov. 2018||ANC Trust index||EFF Trust index||DA Trust index|
|Only 18-24 year old registerd voters||40||-24||-34|
|All South African registered voters||34||-30||-28|
The table above shows that the 18-24 year olds in the country are more positive about the ANC and the EFF (although the index for the EFF is still in negative figures), while they are more negative about the DA than the overall group of South African voters.