n Journal of Public Administration - Elections and political culture : issues and trends

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 0036-0767



This article relates elections to a political culture. It argues that while elections are a crucial means of democratic accountability, much more is needed to achieve a democratic political culture. The article looks at three elements required to inculcate a democratic culture, namely public philosophy, civic and political participation, and leadership. Its contention is that elections are the procedural mechanism by which people choose government whereas the three elements, as referred to in the foregoing, provide the substantive foundation upon which a democratic system of governance must stand or fall. Against this background the article uses the three elements of substantive democracy as analytical tools to consider the 2011 local government elections as a barometer of a political culture in South Africa. It makes important propositions and concludes with a call for a new vision of local democracy based on re-affirmation of a public philosophy of non-racial citizenship; institutional and leadership innovation to enhance political participation.

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