Voters pick the party, not leader

2013-10-03 00:00

POLITICAL analysts say most voters vote for the party rather than the individual that is the face of the party.

Analyst Protas Madlala said in the case of the ANC, the party did not derive its popularity or votes from its president. “[ANC spokesperson Jackson] Mthembu once said you could put a donkey [as the face of the party] and the people would still vote for it,” he said.

“The ANC is a brand; it is not built around an individual; that is how it has survived all these years.”

Madlala said when Zuma was going through his various criminal trials he had many supporters. “Do you think had he decided to form his own political party those people would have defected with him? No. They would have said this is nonsense, we supported you because you were in the ANC.

“The ANC is a brand with a life of its own, you can put a horse or a donkey [with the logo] and the people will still vote for it because they are loyal to the party, not the individual,” he said.

Aubrey Matshiqi said in SA there was still a strong identification between the voter and the party through the party leader. “In some cases these [party leaders and the party] are inseparable. We subscribe to this notion of a strong leader. There are many parties such as the IFP, the UDM, NFP and many others where the party leader is stronger than the party.”

He said in the ANC it was a different situation. “There are some leaders who were popular because they were in the ANC and once they left, the popularity did not follow them.”

Steven Friedman said the smaller the party, the more likely it was to be a vehicle of its leader. He, however, stated that many South African voters voted for the party rather than the leader.

“The notion that voters vote for a leader rather than the party is not correct … with major parties, the voters vote for the party.”

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