With just one day to go before South Africa’s fourth general elections, the media has left the public “largely uninformed” about the range of political parties and their policies, says media research company Media Tenor. South African media has concentrated on just three parties: the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to the detriment of other parties.
Party politics and scandals, rather than their manifestos, was the focus of stories on the ANC, DA and Agang SA. But the EFF’s manifesto was “leveraged the best”.
“By ensuring that the party’s polices make up at least four in every 10 stories about the political party, the public is better informed about the alternative reasons available to them,” says Stephano Radaelli, a senior researcher from Media Tenor South Africa
The ANC successfully got its messaging across to the public in three of the nine provinces — and could still sway voters in the remaining six provinces should its overall tone become more positive.
In contrast, DA remains strongly positioned in the media with regard to their activities in the Northern Cape. The DA could sway voters towards itself in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape should its visibility in the media increase and the positive story around its party manifesto remain the over-riding message in these last few days before the elections.
“Unlike the run-up to the 2009 elections, where the most visible parties’ leaders enjoyed upbeat messaging, this has not been the case for the top three parties’ leaders for most of 2014,” adds Radaelli. “Thus, leaving much to be desired by voters looking up to the leaders for inspiration.”
These results are based on an analysis of 232 713 statements on political parties for 2009 and 2014 pre-election coverage in 47 SA opinion-leading print and TV media.
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