n Journal of Gender, Information and Development in Africa (JGIDA) - Does the party manifesto determine the outcome of an election? Lessons from South Africa

Volume 4, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 2050-4276
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4284


In the political science context, the term 'manifesto' generally refers to a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, and views of a political party through which it persuades the electorate to vote for it in an election. In a way it is a summary of the promises the party commits to deliver on if elected into the position of power. But elections are not won or lost solely through party manifestos. In certain instances a number of factors which prevail during the build-up to an election play a critical role in determining the outcome of an election. In other instances the perceptions held by the electorate about a political party pre-determine their decision to vote for or against such a political party. Using South Africa as a case study, this article expounds the thesis that the party manifesto does not by itself determine the outcome of an election. The examples of the National Party (NP) under apartheid and the African National congress (ANC) under the new political dispensation are used to test this thesis. A new thesis removing agency from the manifesto is proffered as a more complex and critical way of understanding party politics in a general sense.

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