Judgment and choice in the 1999 South African election

Robert Mattes, Helen Taylor, Cherrel Africa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we set out the basic points of the theoretical framework of voter choice that underlie the Opinion ’99 research project. In contrast to prevailing theories that have characterized voter choice in South Africa as an ethnic or racial census, this approach emphasizes the role of how voters learn about government performance and the alternatives offered by opposition parties. We then deduce a very simplified model that consciously excludes all ‘structural’ variables and includes only measures of voter evaluations of government performance and views of political parties and candidates. We use discriminant analysis (DA) to predict the partisan preferences of respondents from a nationally representative September 1998 survey with these measures. We find that the partisan choices of a very large majority of South Africans can be correctly predicted with this model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-247
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 1999


  • South African election
  • South African politics


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