The decline of partisanship in Namibia

30 September 2019 | Politics

Partisanship describes strong adherence or “feelings of closeness” to a particular party. Strong feelings of closeness often lead to persistent loyalty. Parties benefit from partisanship and loyalty during elections. Partisanship often leads to greater participation in campaign events, more members volunteering to work for the party, greater and more frequent campaign contributions, more members campaigning for the party, and ultimately, greater voter turnout and more votes for the party. Less partisanship may lead to more vote switching, less participation in political and election events and even greater voter apathy.

Graph 1 shows that feelings of closeness to parties have been declining over the past years. The greatest decline was from 2014 to 2017. Currently feelings of closeness are the lowest they have been since 1999. Partisanship has declined by 24% since 2006, when it was at its highest.

Graph 2 shows that feelings of closeness are particularly low among the youngest voters. In 2017 only 50% of Namibians between 18 and 25 years old felt close to a party. Although partisanship is strongest among the supporters of the ruling party, all parties are affected. This does not bode well for this election and for the future.



* All survey data used is sourced from the Afrobarometer, a pan-African series of national public attitude surveys on democracy, governance, and society. For more details, please visit http://afrobarometer.org

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