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Framing the Race in South Africa
The Political Origins of Racial Census Elections

$31.99 (C)

Part of Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics

  • Date Published: January 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107617711

$ 31.99 (C)
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About the Authors
  • Post-apartheid South African elections have borne an unmistakable racial imprint: Africans vote for one set of parties, whites support a different set of parties, and with few exceptions, there is no crossover voting between groups. These voting tendencies have solidified the dominance of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) over South African politics and turned South African elections into “racial censuses.” This book explores the political sources of these outcomes. It argues that although the beginnings of these patterns lie in South Africa’s past, in the effects apartheid had on voters’ beliefs about race and destiny and the reputations parties forged during this period, the endurance of the census reflects the ruling party’s ability to use the powers of office to prevent the opposition from evolving away from its apartheid-era party label. By keeping key opposition parties “white,” the ANC has rendered them powerless, solidifying its hold on power in spite of an increasingly restive and dissatisfied electorate.

    • Covers four post-apartheid South African elections (1994, 1999, 2004, and 2009)
    • Unlike most previous work on South African elections, it examines both voter behavior and party politics
    • Contains in-depth studies of campaign behavior during South African elections as well as a unique analysis of party candidate lists and how they have changed over time
    • Concludes with comparative studies of elections in El Salvador and Israel
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “This groundbreaking book presents a bold challenge to the conventional wisdom about identity voting. Regarding race as a ‘red herring,’ the author shows how voting patterns in South Africa are politically engineered rather than socially structured. She traces the electoral victories of the ruling party to its success at painting an exclusionary political image of its main opponents. Ferree’s contribution – valuable to scholars and campaign strategists alike – draws much needed attention to the politics of symbolic manipulation in dominant party systems.”
    —Michael Bratton, Michigan State University

    “To argue that the role of race in South African elections is a ‘red herring’ is indeed a bold statement, one that might even be seen as heresy by veteran observers of that country’s politics. Yet Karen Ferree offers a new and convincing explanation of South Africa’s racial census elections that is backed up by an impressive range of empirical evidence, much of it original, and tested in a way that is both informed by the comparative study of competitive elections as well as a sensitive appreciation of the South African context. By focusing on the political strategy of negative framing, Ferree demonstrates how both the relative communications strategies and skills of the African National Congress and the major opposition parties, as well as their relative stock of quality candidates and campaign resources, conspire to maintain the way voters of different races view the credibility of the country’s political parties.”
    —Robert Mattes, University of Cape Town

    “In the tradition of V.O. Key’s Southern Politics, Karen Ferree convincingly explains how South African politicians thwart multi-racial coalitions to maintain the racial divides that preserve their power base. South Africa’s cleavages are testament to the success of political strategies, not an inherent aspect of racial identity. Ferree’s incisive analysis is important for any democracy — including the United States — with racial, ethnic or religious divisions.”
    —Samuel Popkin, University of California, San Diego

    “Ferree shows that what looks like a simple product of racial arithmetic—white South Africans axiomatically supporting traditionally ‘white’ parties and black South Africans unthinkingly supporting the ANC—is more than just identity voting. It is, instead, the product of a conscious (and highly successful) political strategy on the part of the ANC, achieved through its monopoly of media coverage and its ability to buy off the best African political talent, to prevent its main rivals from escaping their association in voters’ minds with the Apartheid era and the interests of whites. Framing the Race is not just the most insightful and analytically grounded account of South African politics in the post-Apartheid era but also one of the best recent books on how dominant party regimes maintain themselves in power.”
    —Daniel Posner, University of California, Los Angeles

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    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107617711
    • length: 314 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 49 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction
    2. Voters
    3. The 1994 campaign
    4. The 1999 campaign
    5. The 2004 campaigns
    6. Can a leopard change its spots? candidate demographics and party label change
    7. Why so slow? the political challenges of candidate transformation
    8. Negative framing strategies and African opposition parties
    9. Conclusion: South Africa in comparative perspective.

  • Author

    Karen E. Ferree, University of California, San Diego
    Karen Ferree is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at University of California, San Diego. She has traveled extensively in Africa, particularly South Africa. Her research focuses on elections in Africa's new and consolidating democracies, and she has published research articles in a variety of journals, including American Political Science Review, British Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and Political Analysis.

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