Wednesday, May 7, 2014

South Africa counting votes (updated!)

SA's election was today, and the nation is counting it's ballots. Polls closed a few hours ago.

As Canadians we get used to having our final results in by the morning newspapers; but we really are spoiled by this luxury. Most countries do not get results that fast. Counting will take a full day if not days. Fortunately, however, counting is progressing at a healthy rate and the basic shape of the final result is known. The ANC has been sitting at 50-55% for hours now, and the DA, at 30-35%. Although only 8% of the vote is in, we can make some basic assumptions about the final end result.

First, some history. In the last election, the ANC took 66% to the DA's 17%, with COPE at 7%
In 2004, the ANC took 70% to the DA's 12%, and the IFP's 7%.
Back in 1999, DP, old name for DA, managed only 10%, compared to 9% for IFP and 66% for the ANC.
In 1994, the first free election, ANC took 63%, and IFP 11%. National took 20% and finished second.

The Democratic Party was at 2% in this election; whereas today, the Democratic Alliance looks set to form the largest opposition caucus in the post-apartheid history of South Africa.

The last election under Apartheid saw the National party won 94 seats, the Conservatives win 39, and the Democratic Party win 33.

The National Party has since merged into the ANC, with some supporters going to the DA, and others into the VFP. The VFP became the VFP, adding the P (plus) by merging with the Conservatives. In 2009 the FFP managed 4 seats, the same number they captured in 2004, and one more than in 1999. Their high was in 1994 when they managed 9 seats. For comparison, the Democratic Party only took 7 in this election.

Interestingly, compared to the 1994 election, 3/4ths of Democratic and Conservative/VFP voters remained with their party. Even if the remainder went National, it meant that mathematically, more previously disenfranchised voters voted National than for the IFP.

So, what are these parties exactly? In short; the ANC is the ruling party, the party of Mandella. The DA is and has been the "Liberal Party", while the VFP/Conservatives are, naturally, "Conservative". The IFP is an ethnic-based party that represents the Zulu community. It has lost it's popularity recently, especially to the ANC.

In the free elections, the largest share of opposition seats won by a single party was the National result in 1994, taking 20.5% of the vote and seats. In the last Apartheid election, the Conservatives took 23.5% of the seats.

In 1970, the United Party managed 47 seats in the then 166 seat legislature. The Progressives, which later became the Democrats, took 1. Eventually the United Party would be gobbled up by the Democrats. These 47 seats amounted to less than 30% of seats.

In fact you need to go all the way back to 1953 to find an election where the opposition had a larger caucus. In that election, National took 94 seats compared to 57 for United. This is 36.6% of seats held by the largest opposition party. You need to go back 61 years to find an official opposition this large. Worse still, you need to go back to 1948 to find a government with only 70 of 150 seats, or, under 50%, the last time a government took so little.

To step back, lets look at those topline numbers again.
ANC - 55.11%
DA - 32.45%

You need to go back to the end of the Truman presidency in the US to find a time when there was such a large opposition against such a small government in South Africa.

This is an earthquake in SA politics.

If these results were final, the seats would break down as follows.

ANC - 225
DA - 134
Others - 41

The Others break down as follows.
EFF - 14 - Radical Left
IFP - 7 - Zulu
VFP - 5 - Conservative and Afrikaner/White
NFP - 4 Zulu (splinter from IFP)
UDM - 4 Attempt at forming a party like the DA, ANC splinter
COPE - 3 - Splinter from ANC
ACDP - 2 - Christian
AIC - 2 - Local (wants to adjust provincial boundary slightly, popular in area of adjustment)
AL J - 0 - Islamic (near to winning a seat)
AGANG - 0 - Anti-Corruption (near to winning a seat)
ICOSA - 0 - Local (near to winning a seat, based on Karoo area)

If you are at all interested, I recommend checking out for results.

In the time it took me to write this post, I had to go back and edit the first line to say 8% and not 5% as it originally did.


The DA seems set on beating the record set by National back in 1994, but by a smaller margin then noted above.

I noticed that some provinces had more results in than others. Applying the current votes per province, then weighting each province based on it's population, I ended up with a different result.

ANC - 237
DA - 101
OTH - 62

This would be the first time the official opposition has managed over 100 seats, and still set a record for strength of the official opposition party, but it is a smaller "earthquake" than it would be if the DA was able to take at least half the ANCs total.


  1. For those wondering, in the updated post, most of the "other" seats gained appear to be going to the EFF and IFP.

    I will make a post tomorrow detailing further results.

  2. Interim update: the DA appears set to take 81 seats at the end of the day, which would be less than the National result in 1994, when they took 82.

    1. Just in the time since that comment, the city of Joburg has started to report. The DA is now sitting on 88 seats, which would be the best ever for an opposition party since free elections were introduced, while the ANC is at 252, which would tie their worst result ever, in 1994.

  3. At this time, the results are projected to be as follows.
    ANC - 253
    DA - 89
    EFF - 22
    IFP - 12
    NFP - 8
    UDM - 4
    VFP - 4
    COPE - 3
    AIC - 2
    ACDP - 2
    PAC - 1
    AGANG - 1