n Journal of African Elections - Reproducing toxic election campaigns - negative campaigning and race-based politics in the Western Cape

Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



The 2014 election in the Western Cape was once again a high-stakes, fiercely-contested affair. Political parties saw the Western Cape as an 'open race' and the province became the centre of vigorous campaign efforts in the lead-up to the election. The African National Congress (ANC), which had lost control of the province because its vote share dropped from 45% in 2004 to 32% in 2009, hoped to unseat the Democratic Alliance (DA), which had won in 2009 by a very narrow margin (51%). The ANC felt that it had done enough to regain control of the province, especially in light of deep-seated disillusionment in many communities and the violent protests that took place prior to the election.While the ANC maintained its support base, winning votes from 33% of the provincial electorate, the type of identity-based campaign it pursued combined with other factors to work to the DA's advantage. Despite the fact that the DA also engaged in race-based campaigning it won 59% of the provincial vote. This was obtained at the expense of small parties, who received negligible support in the 2014 election. Only the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Christian Democratic Party won enough votes to obtain a seat each in the provincial legislature. This article examines electoral dynamics in the Western Cape, which saw the consolidation of DA support in the province. It focuses on the 2014 election campaign and the extent to which the negative campaign cycle evident in previous elections continued during the 2014 election campaign.

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