Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics


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In more developed democracies, such as the US and Germany, interest groups both shape and promote public opinion. Regrettably, this is not always true in South Africa�s nascent system. This anthology tries to understand why interest groups do not affect or advance public opinion in South Africa and then suggests how interest groups can redress the situation.



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Published 22 May 2012
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EAN13 9780798303262
Language English
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Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics: SouthAfrica’sMissing Links?
Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics: South Africa’s Missing Links?
Edited by: Heather A. Thuynsma
Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics: South Africa’s Missing Links?
First co-published in 2012 by Africa Institute of South Africa PO Box 630 Pretoria 0001 South Africa Konrad Adenauer Foundation 60 Hume Road Dunkeld 2196 South Africa
University of Pretoria 1 Lynnwood Road Pretoria 0002 South Africa
ISBN: 978-0-7983-0292-0
© Copyright Africa Institute of South Africa 2012
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission from the copyright owner.
To copy any part of this publication, you may contact DALRO for information and copyright clearance.
Any unauthorised copying could lead to civil liability and/or criminal sanctions.
Telephone:086 12 DALRO (from within South Africa); +27 (0)11 712-8000 Telefax:+27 (0)11 403-9094 Postal Address: P O Box 31627, Braamfontein, 2017, South Africa
Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at in this book are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Africa Institute of South Africa, the University of Pretoria or the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
The Africa Institute of South Africa is a think tank and research organisation, focusing on political, socio-economic, international and development issues in contemporary Africa. The Institute conducts research, publishes books, monographs, occasional papers, policy briefs and a quarterly journal – Africa Insight. The Institute holds regular seminars on issues of topical interest. It is also home to one of the best library and documentation centres worldwide, with materials on every African country.
For more information, contact the Africa Institute at PO Box 630, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; Email; or visit our website at
Table of Contents
Acknowledgements Preface Foreword Abbreviations and acronyms Author Biographies
Introduction Heather A. Thuynsma
Part 1 Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics Around the World: Instructive Insight?
Chapter 1 SpecialinterestsandhowtheyhelpshapeUSlegislation:Interestingpossibilities or potential pitfalls? Michael Wolf
Chapter 2 FundraisingforsocialchangeintheUS:Interestgroupadvocacyincontemporary US elections Costas Panagopoulos
Chapter 3 InterestgroupsintheGermanpoliticalsystem:Advice for South Africa? Siegmar Schmidt
Part 2 Public Opinion and Interest Group Politics in South Africa: Comparing Perspectives
Chapter 4 UnderstandingtheSouthAfricanpoliticalpsychePaulus Zulu
Chapter 5 ThecharacteroftheSouthAfricanstate:Theself-understandingoftheANC as government and its impact on the public space F. Gerhard Wolmarans
Chapter 6 ThemethodologyofpollingpublicopinioninSouthAfrica:Measuringthepulse of the people Mari Harris
Chapter 7 Managingpublicopinionduringthe2009SouthAfricanelectionsCollette Schulz Herzenberg
Chapter 8 Thepossibilitiesofelectioncampaignsassitesforpoliticaladvocacy:South Africa in comparative perspective Wadim Schreiner and Robert Mattes
Chapter 9 Challengesforinterestgroupsandtheiradvocacycampaigns:The case of sustainable medium density housing Anzabeth Tonkin and Lufuno Muthambi
Chapter 10 Aninterestgroupatwork:Environmentalactivismandthecaseofacidmine drainage on Johannesburg’s West Rand Nikki Funke, Shanna Nienaber, Christine Gioia
Part 3 Championing Public Opinion: A Future for Interest Groups?
Chapter 11 Managingcampaignstoinuencethepublicpolicyagenda:Puttingtheory into practice Rick Farmer
Chapter 12 AdvocacyandnancingthatshapesandshiftspublicopinionHeather A. Thuynsma
Chapter 13 Governmentandaccesseffectsontheuseofsocialnetworkingsitesbynationwide NGOs in the US, South Africa and Mexico Jason Johnson
Chapter 14 The ability of social movements to affect policy change in South Africa and the United States: Comparing and contrasting key elements of HIV/ AIDS treatment and welfare entitlement campaigns Adrian Di Lollo
Chapter 15 Beyond appeasement: The real business agenda Ann Bernstein
Chapter 16 Democracywithoutachoice?Interestgroups,advocacyandpoliticalbehaviour in Namibia: A warning for South Africa? Henning Melber
Conclusion: Cause for Study Heather A. Thuynsma
This book would not have been possible without the support of the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. I would particularly like to thank Prof. Maxi Schoeman, Dr Werner Boehler, Julia Weber and Marlize van den Berg for their steadfast assistance throughout this process. I was also privileged to work with each contributing author and appreciate their enduring patience throughout this project. Lastly, to Roland Henwood, Alida Kok, Wilma Mar-tin and Rina du Toit – thank you all for your hard work and enthusiasm.
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Heather Thuynsma Department of Political Sciences University of Pretoria
The Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria is currently one of the few tertiary institutions in South Africa to study and teach aspects of campaign and electoral politics. Since 2009, the Department, through Heather Thuynsma, has researched how political and advocacy campaigns promote and deepen South Africa’s democracy, and encourage public participation beyond the act of voting; and whether and how these campaigns shape public opinion and policy.  In support of these efforts, the Department, in partnership with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, hosted two workshops in 2009 and 2010 to investigate the role of public-opinion and interest-group politics in South Africa. To contextualise inter-est groups and the theoretical and practical components of their campaigns, authors from the US, Germany, Namibia and South Africa were invited to participate in each of these workshops. This book uses these discussions as a guide and explores the suc-cesses and challenges facing South African interest groups, and highlights their advo-cacy efforts.  In essence, this book probes a sector of our political life that is seldom debated. It provides a foundation from which to examine and, crucially, cultivate a healthy and effective public debate that will improve the quality of democracy in South Africa.  The observations, opinions and insights offered by the authors of this volume now stand to be tested, in a manner of speaking, during the 2011 Local Government Elections, a task we leave for now to you, the reader, but also one we hope to take up in a future volume.
Maxi Schoeman Head of Department: Political Sciences University of Pretoria