n Journal of Public Administration - Does a 'kingmaker' usurp the electorate power? A South African perspective

Volume 54 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0036-0767


Elections in South Africa may create complexity, especially in cases where an outright victory by any political party cannot be determined, be it at the provincial or local government level. In such cases, the electorate power is seemingly usurped by the so-called 'kingmaker', as it becomes the arbiter as to who governs. This conceptual paper focuses on the South African local government elections held in 2016, where the kingmaker(s) became instrumental in changing the aspirations of the majority in terms of who governs certain municipalities. As scholars and practitioners are trawling methodologies in terms of how agents or political parties interact in the process of delivering services to communities, it is not the intention of this paper to argue about what constitutes majority rule, but to argue that these kingmakers usurp power from voters to elect their representatives through a majority vote, and that these types of coalition governments have the tendency to deteriorate, at the expense of the voters.

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