Skip to content
Working paper

WP82: Democracy without people: Political institutions and citizenship in the New South Africa

Robert Mattes 9 Nov 2007 South Africa
Download (English)

South Africa is widely seen as a leading, if not paradigmatic, success story of the Third Wave of Democracy. This success is just as widely attributed to the country’s supposedly wise choice of new democratic institutions that averted ethnic civil war and induced all key contenders to buy into the new democratic dispensation. But while there has been a real secular increase in public perceptions that its new institutions are indeed supplying a high level of democracy, there is little if any evidence that these institutional successes have resulted in increased levels of public demand for democracy. Nor is there much evidence of any institutional impacts on the attitudes of specific sub-groups that might be expected by institutional theories of democratization. The paper closes by suggesting three possible reasons for these developments that should be pursued in a final version of this paper.

Robert Mattes

Robert Mattes is a professor of government and public policy at the University of Strathclyde and a co-founder of Afrobarometer.