The power of the youth: young South Africans' voting behaviour


No moment has made the importance of the youth vote more evident than the recent Brexit referendum. Millennials - those born between 1980 and 2000 - have surpassed the baby boomer numbers of our grandparents in many countries. Millennials worldwide are also the population group least likely to vote. According to the last polls done just before the Brexit referendum, 72% of 18-24 year olds were in favour of remaining in the European Union (EU). They are also the population who'll be most effected by the decision to leave. There are 15 million millennials in the United Kingdom (UK). Only 34% voted in the referendum. It must be said, however, that these were still record-breaking numbers. This not withstanding, if every millennial had voted the UK would still be a part of the EU.

Millennials make up around 28% of the South African population. As the recent and rapid rise of student movements in South Africa over the last two years has shown, it would seem that South African millennials are engaged, engaging and highly politicized. If all of our millennials were to vote come election day, we might have very different outcomes too. Too often, however, political parties (and other brands...) around the world completely misread the needs and concerns of their youth audiences.

  • Do young people in South Africa vote?
  • Who do they vote for?
  • What are South Africa's political parties doing to win the youth vote?
  • What are the issues most likely to get them to the polls?
  • How do we grow an active and conscious citizenry of South African youth ready to lead this country into the next phase of it's democracy?

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) is holding a live webcast of their seminar "Do you want my vote? Young South Africans' voting behaviours" from 10.30 - 12.30 today, 27 July 2016.

Tune in for enlightening talks from Gareth Newman and Lauren Tracey from the ISS, Ace Moloi author of 'Holding my Breath' and University of the Free State student activist, and Koketso Moeti national co-coordinator for

Click here to access the live webcast.