South African National Elections in Numbers – Part 2

According to the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, there are 312 registered political parties that will contest for votes in the country’s coming national elections. Exactly how many of these registered political parties have online presence? In my search for the answer, I found the published stats rather interesting.

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Online presence of registered political parties


To answer the question in the opening paragraph, the starting point was a manual count of the published contact details of the 312 political parties, which included Website addresses. I overlaid on this count a scan of Facebook and Twitter account details of the parties. It took a little bit of time, but it’s called labour of love 😎.

And the results are:


  • 🔎 Only 1 in 9 registered political parties has a Website;
  • 🔎 1 in 4 has a Facebook account; and
  • 🔎 1 in 22 has a Twitter account.

As my curiosity got the better of me, I scratched the surface further. I was wondering which of the relevant political parties has presence on more than one of the selected online platforms.

Here are the results:


  • 🔎 1 in 21 registered political parties has only a Website;
  • 🔎 1 in 7 has a only a Facebook account;
  • 🔎 1 in 24 has both Website and Facebook account but is not on Twitter;
  • 🔎 1 in 80 has both Twitter and Facebook accounts but not a Website;
  • 🔎 1 in 32 has a Website, and Facebook and Twitter accounts; and
  • 🔎 None has only a Twitter account, or a combination of Website and Twitter account only.

Essentially, most of the registered political parties that have online presence prefer Facebook. This could lead one to believe that this largest social network must be the most effective online medium for promoting party manifestos. But is this the case?

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Social network communities


The 75 registered political parties with Facebook accounts have an aggregated total of 1 775 826 fans among them. That is an average of 24 000 fans per political party with a Facebook account.

The aggregated total of followers for the 14 political parties with Twitter accounts is of over 2 million. That is an average of 144 000 followers per political party with a Twitter account.

Time to answer the question whether Facebook is more effective than Twitter for the registered political parties, given the 5:1 account ratio.

Bear in mind that politics is about numbers.

Based on the comparative average number of followers per party alone, Twitter appears to be doing a better job for the parties that are on this social network as compared to those that are on Facebook.


My thoughts


A Website is an organisation’s online address and information platform. In the case of political parties participating in the coming national elections, this owned medium is critical for publishing manifestos – the promises that are being made to the electorate, and which are supposed to be used to decide on the party to vote for. I am surprised that 8 out of 9 registered political parties do not have a Web address. Is this a sign that they are not serious? You be the judge.

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Social media is an online megaphone platform. Political parties that are registered for national elections are supposed to be using this “free” channel overwhelmingly to overcome the physical barriers. With Facebook as a proxy, I wonder how 3 out 4 political parties – and especially the small ones that do not have the resources – hope to reach the electorate far and wide using mainly the physical means and paid-for media channels. The irony is that it is the biggest parties with the resources that are most active all the main social networks.

Do you agree that registered political parties without online presence are not able to maximise reach? I invite you to leave comments here below.


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