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Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Working Paper
Title Extreme inequality and the structure of political cleavages in South Africa, 1994-2019
Issue 13
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2020
This paper draws on political attitudes surveys conducted at the time of general elections to study the interplay of social inequalities, changing social structures, and racial cleavages in South Africa since 1994. I analyze the link between voting behaviors and the main socioeconomic characteristics of voters, in particular income, education level, wealth, race, and their interactions. I document extreme socioeconomic political divides, which are strongly, though not entirely explained by South Africa's exceptional racial inequalities. The gradual decline of the dominant African National Congress since 1994 has been driven by the shift of the new Black middle class towards opposition parties. Growing abstention among the youth and the lower-educated has further eroded support for the ANC. I also put South Africa's cleavage politics in comparative perspective, focusing on how the transformation of dominant-party systems in new democracies plays a role in crystallizing new sociopolitical identities.

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