The effect of crime on South Africans’ voting behaviour

Robert Nyenhuis*, Thomas Isbell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What effect does crime have on South Africans' electoral behaviour? Do crime victims and citizens who fear crime enter or exit the electoral arena? If they do vote, do they sanction the ruling African National Congress (ANC)? We use two rounds of Afrobarometer data to provide answers. We corroborate earlier findings that crime victimisation does not appear to shape electoral behaviour. Further, we find that sociotropic perceptions of crime do influence vote choice, although not always in the predicted direction. We explore who tend to be South African crime victims to cast light on these results. We find that opposition parties, specifically the Democratic Alliance (DA), have benefitted electorally from citizens' crime perceptions. We contend that the party's significant focus on crime help account for their ownership of the issue. Lastly, relative to other government performance evaluations, crime does matter, and its salience and importance have increased over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalCommonwealth & Comparative Politics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2024
Externally publishedYes

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