n Journal of African Elections - A vote of confidence : gender differences in attitudes to electoral participation and experience in South Africa




Despite a sizeable body of literature on the extent and nature of gender differences in electoral participation in developed countries there is limited evidence for developing countries such as South Africa. This study employs data from two nationally representative surveys, namely the 2010 Voter Participation Survey and the 2011 Election Satisfaction Survey, to investigate the relative importance of factors associated with voting decisions among men and women. The article specifically considers cultural modernisation and rational choice accounts of voter turnout. On average, we find more similarity than difference between women and men. Multivariate analysis shows that political efficacy, political interest and a history of voting were common significant determinants of intention to vote in municipal elections, though a sense of a duty to vote, satisfaction with service delivery and political knowledge were important for women exclusively. Political orientation emerges as more important for electoral abstinence than administrative and other individual barriers, again with little discernible gender variation. The results highlight the importance of civic education initiatives and improved responsiveness of elected officials in meeting the needs of women and men. Continued investment is also required to consolidate recent gains in electoral administration and ensure that the benefits of voting continue to outweigh the costs. Sustained turnout levels in future municipal elections are likely to be determined by the success of such interventions.


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