This paper provides an overview of the third local government elections in South Africa, held on 1 March 2006. Three broad explanations are given for voting behaviour (rational choice, party identification, and the sociological model). We argue that contrary to the expectations and assumption that voter turnout and behaviour would be determined by material issues (service delivery) the outcome points to participation as being an intrinsic value in itself. In the second part of the paper we focus on youth voting behaviour, based on a pilot study conducted among political science and sociology students at the University of Pretoria in April 2006. We conclude that despite low levels of voter registration and voting among young people, they tend to become more involved in 'ballot box' activities over time and remain largely optimistic about the country. To the extent that voters (youth and adults) are dissatisfied with the performance of the ruling party (the party of overwhelming choice) such dissatisfaction does not point to a shift to support opposition parties. Rather, debates about policy and performance will take place within the ruling party, among various factions fighting for the 'soul of the ANC'.