n Journal of African Elections - Future imperfect : the youth and participation in the 2009 South African elections

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-4700



It was widely believed that more young people would participate in the 2009 general elections than had participated in elections in the past. This conjecture was based on increased youth registration figures at certain points in the registration process. Since 2007/2008 there had been an intense focus globally on the historic election of Barack Obama as the first African American president of the United States and it was surmised that his victory would invigorate an interest in politics around the world. The Obama election campaign's extensive use of new media technologies, as well as the crafting of his central campaign message to appeal to the twin ideas of hope and change were thought to have had an invigorating impact on political idealism, political activism and political participation. This, along with other factors, it is widely claimed, had an effect on political and electoral participation in South Africa, especially among the youth. This article investigates these claims and examines trends in the participation of the youth in the four general elections held in South Africa since 1994, with a specific focus on the 2009 elections.

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