Pass or Fail?

Assessing the Quality of Democracy in South Africa

by Victoria Graham (Author)
©2015 Thesis 468 Pages


In recent years, growing concerns over the strength of South Africa’s democracy appear to indicate a population increasingly disillusioned and dissatisfied with the quality of its implementation. This book assesses the quality of democracy in South Africa after 20 years of democracy in order to ascertain whether or not this growing perception is valid. Since the inception of democracy in 1994 there have been countless procedural and substantive improvements in addressing historically entrenched political, social and economic problems; however, there are serious issues that have emerged relating to the quality of democratic implementation in South Africa. Two existing analytical frameworks of democracy assessment, International IDEA’s State of Democracy framework and Leonardo Morlino’s tool for empirical research on democratic qualities, TODEM, are utilised to assess the quality of South Africa’s rule of law and institutional capacity; representative and accountable government; civil society and popular participation; and freedom and equality after 20 years of democracy. The book concludes cautiously that while South Africa faces many serious and threatening potholes in the road to a fully successful democracy, there is nevertheless much to applaud.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Foreword
  • Chapter One. Introduction
  • 1.1. Introduction and Background
  • 1.2. A brief background of the value of democracy to Africans
  • 1.3. Purpose of the book: Auditing democracy
  • 1.4. A review of the literature
  • 1.5. Description and justification of research methods to be employed
  • 1.6. Conceptualisation
  • 1.7. The structure of this book
  • Chapter Two. The ‘Quality’ of Democracy: Theoretical Explanation and Framework for Assessment
  • 2.1. Introduction
  • 2.2. Assessing the ‘quality’ of democracy
  • 2.3. Identifying dimensions or qualities of democracy
  • 2.4. Defining dimensions and other important terminology
  • 2.5. Conclusion
  • Chapter Three. Pillar One: The Rule of Law and Institutional Capacity
  • 3.1. Introduction
  • 3.2. The rule of law and access to justice
  • 3.3. Security of the individual
  • 3.4. Institutional and administrative capacity
  • 3.5. Presence of corruption
  • 3.6. Conclusion
  • Chapter Four. Pillar Two: Representative and Accountable Government
  • 4.1. Introduction
  • 4.2. Free and fair elections
  • 4.3. Democratic role of political parties
  • 4.4. Effective and responsive government
  • 4.5. Inter-institutional (horizontal) accountability
  • 4.6. Conclusion
  • Chapter Five. Pillar Three: Civil Society and Popular Participation
  • 5.1. Introduction
  • 5.2. The media in a democratic society
  • 5.3. Political participation
  • 5.4. Conclusion
  • Chapter Six. Pillar Four: Freedom and Equality
  • 6.1. Introduction
  • 6.2. Civil rights
  • 6.3. Existence of discriminations
  • 6.4. Political rights
  • 6.5. Socio-economic rights and resources
  • 6.6. Conclusion
  • Chapter Seven. Conclusion: Review And Findings
  • 7.1. Rationalisation and theoretical framework
  • 7.2. Key findings of the study and overall score
  • 7.3. Contribution to the field
  • 7.4. Areas for further research
  • Bibliography
  • Series index

← 8 | 9 →


The author would like to acknowledge and thank Professor Yolanda Sadie, Professor Leonardo Morlino, the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Johannesburg for the generous financial support throughout her studies, RISC: Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda, Professors Rory Ryan, Ronel Johl, Lionel Posthumus, Chris Landsberg and Pieter Fourie; Dr Marianne Ulrikssen; Rae Israel, Zelda Geldenhuys; Ms Claudia Forster-Towne; Professor Craig Mackenzie; the author’s family: Mom and dad, twin sister Suzy, Jim, brothers, Antony and Richard and their wives, Ilonka and Robyn, and her nieces and nephews, Rachel, Lucian, Michael, Miska and Isadora and all of the experts interviewed for this study for their time and great insights: Cherrel Africa, Cathi Albertyn, Johan Burger, Frans Cronje, John Daniel, Jackie Dugard, Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi, Ebrahim Fakir, Judith February, Ferial Haffajee, Anton Harber, Janine Hicks, Loren Landau, Kate Lefko-Everett, Phil Mtimkulu, Laurence Piper, Michael Schmidt, Albert Venter and Siphamandla Zondi.

Édith Archambault, Amélie Artis, Marie J. Bouchard, Élisa Braley, Danièle Demoustier, Fiona Duguid, Fabienne Fecher, Paulo Cruz Filho, Luiz Inácio Gaiger, Thomas Guérin, Megan A. Haddock, Akira Kurimoto, Michel Marée, Sybille Mertens, José Luis Monzón, Daniel Rault, Damien Rousselière, Lester M. Salamon, Wafa Ben Sedrine, S. Wojciech Sokolowski, Roger Spear, Martin St-Denis, Nicoleta Uzea. ← 9 | 10 →

← 10 | 11 →

List of Tables

← 12 | 13 →

List of Figures

← 14 | 15 →p

List of Abbreviations

← 18 | 19 →


Harlan KOFF1 & Carmen MAGANDA2

The Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) is proud to present Dr. Victoria Graham with the 2013-2014 Stephen P. Koff prize for the outstanding doctoral dissertation on social cohesion. This award, which has been privately donated by Dr. Koff’s family, honours a man whose intellectual acumen and human caring touched the lives of many.

Dr. Koff received his degrees in political science from Indiana University (B.A.) and Columbia University (M.A. and Ph.D.). He taught briefly at Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges before moving to Syracuse University in 1957. Committed to the development of Syracuse’s academic community, Dr. Koff remained there his entire academic career which spanned four decades. During this time, he contributed to the development of the Maxwell School of Citizenship, with a special commitment to its international programs. Dr. Koff founded Syracuse University’s academic centre in Florence, Italy. He was also President of the New York State Political Science Association, President of the Northeastern Political Science Association, and a member of the Board of the Experiment in International Living. In addition to his academic work, Dr. Koff was committed to community-building and the voluntary sector. An expert in Italian Politics, Dr. Koff often collaborated with NGOs active in Peace Movements, Anti-Mafia, and International Education, just to name a few of his many activities. For his commitment to US-Italy exchanges and his academic work on Italian politics, Dr. Koff was named Knight in the Order of Merit by the Italian government.

Dr. Koff’s intellectual curiosity brought him to work in many domains. In addition to Italian politics, he conducted research on European integration, comparative political parties and party systems, Canadian politics, local politics and the concept of leadership. His interest in people and communities also created an avid interest in political culture. ← 19 | 20 →

The field of leadership is where Dr. Koff’s presence was most significantly felt. Like other scholars, he often asked “what qualities do good leaders possess”? The answers to this question were found in his behaviour. Dr. Koff’s intellectual curiosity and his ability to transmit his knowledge made him a very effective educator throughout his career. His commitment to social justice and his appreciation for, and loyalty to people with whom he interacted on a daily basis made his presence felt wherever he went.

The Stephen P. Koff Prize, which is selected by an independent committee of scholars from the RISC Consortium, aims to recognize a Ph.D. dissertation which makes a significant contribution to the examination of social cohesion-related issues and reflects Dr. Koff’s leadership vision. Dr. Victoria Graham’s manuscript, entitled Twenty Years of South African Democracy: Assessing the Quality does just that. Like “Leadership,” the concept of “Democracy” is considered to be a fundamental characteristic of good governance. At the same time, we are still attempting to understand what we expect from “good democracies” beyond fair and free elections.

Dr. Graham’s groundbreaking book opens a black box concerning the evolution of democracy in South Africa since the end of apartheid. While numerous volumes have been dedicated to specific aspects of South Africa’s contemporary political system, such a party politics, public attitudes, corruption, impacts of race, migration, violence, etc. systemic analysis of these phenomena within the framework of the country’s political transition has been lacking. Dr. Graham’s analysis sheds light not only on the evolution of democracy in South Africa, but it critically discusses the relationships between these specific characteristics of the South African political system by employing the “quality of democracy” analytical framework.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2015 (December)
Democracy civil society freedom South Africa
Bruxelles, Bern, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 468 pp., 6 graphs, 19 tables

Biographical notes

Victoria Graham (Author)

Victoria Graham is a senior lecturer in International Studies at Monash South Africa and senior research associate in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg. In 2013 she completed her PhD on the quality of democracy in South Africa and has since worked on several democracy-related projects including voting behaviour and populism in Africa.


Title: Pass or Fail?
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470 pages