‘Mine is bigger than yours’
All parties are guilty of ‘stadiumology’ but there’s no connection between the numbers and electoral support
All the political parties have exaggerated their attendance figures at rallies this year, because all of them have suffered added pressure to fill up stadiums. This is according to a new phenomenon termed “stadiumology”. City Press checked the numbers at some of the big political rallies held over the past few months.
We found that none of the attendance figures announced by party leaders matched the actual numbers – provided by stadium management – of people who actually went through the turnstiles.
The game began when rapper Cassper Nyovest vowed to #FillUpTheDome in November. A few weeks later, the EFF announced that they would #FillUpOrlando.
According to EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi: “Stadiumology was coined by the ANC after it failed to fill up a stadium in Nelson Mandela Bay. It is a term that comes from the embarrassment they suffered there when they started to play down the reality that, in politics everywhere, popular democracy depends on the numbers.”
Following the ruling party’s disappointment in Port Elizabeth, their spokesperson, Zizi Kodwa, wrote a scathing statement on the media’s obsession with so-called stadiumology, saying that whether it even translated into votes at the polls remained to be seen.
“The ANC owes its position to an overwhelming public mandate – and we are not intimidated by stadiumology and its warped reasoning.”
DA spokesperson Phumzile Van Damme agrees with Kodwa, saying that while stadiums give supporters a chance to come into contact with the party, “there is THEUNS KRUG no correlation between the size of these events and actual electoral support. A party may fill a stadium but end up with only a small percentage of the vote.”
Still, with every stadium event that comes and goes, social media is abuzz with pictures of all angles of the stadium, and those participating via Twitter demand the exact time each picture was taken.
Political analyst Professor Tinyiko Maluleke says the added pressure comes from what he calls “crunch year”, especially for the ruling party.
“There is marketing mileage to be made from a full stadium, but also psychological mileage – if we can fill up a stadium, it means a lot more people out there support us,” says Maluleke.
“Beyond that, there is nothing scientific about the relationship between a stadium and a nation,” he says.