Thursday, May 8, 2014

South Africa Election

Vote counting is coming to an end across most of South Africa, with 90% of ballots counted, and with most Provinces reporting 93% of ballots counted or more. The laggards are Free State, at 82%, which is not expected to change the national result much, and Gauteng.

Gauteng, pronounced more like "Kauteng", is a very urban province, containing the Capital of Pretoria, the largest city of Johannesburg, and the general area. It is the smallest province geographically yet the largest in terms of population. Only 54% of ballots have been counted here so far. The ANC is doing rather poorly, sitting at 54% across the province, below their national average. With so many outstanding votes, this means the ANC will trend down as counting continues. 

So, where do things stand, and what of the things I outlined in my earlier post?

The DA looks set to take 93 seats, or, 23.25%. The DA looks set to finish as the Official Opposition in 6 provinces, and the Government in 1. The EFF will take the Official Opposition in the other 2 provinces. This compares to the National result in 1994 where the party managed 1 Government and 7 Official Opposition spots, but only was able to capture 82 seats Nationwide. Keep in mind that in 1994, the ANC took 252 seats, their worst showing since the introduction of democracy.

This would still be a historically large opposition. In the last apartheid election, the Conservatives managed 23.5% of seats, and that was the largest opposition since 1970. In addition, the ANC, which has a historic low of 252 seats, looks set to take only 250. 

So, is this the massive earthquake that was expected earlier on counting?


This is a significant tremor. 

The DA will have extreme difficulty going from this result to national government; but will have an easier time going from this to an opposition large enough that they are seen as the "next government". The DA has a problem: the glass ceiling. The DA seems to have taken the about 3/4ths of the White vote, if not more, and edging on half of the Coloured and Indian vote. I estimate the DA at about 10% among Black voters, running near equal to the EFF, but slightly ahead of it. 

The DA, which is trending up, compares to the other historic oppositions. The United opposition in the 1950's was on it's way down and out as a former government; the same is true for the National showing in 1994. In 1989 the Conservatives were trending up, but were killed by the end of apartheid and the introduction of democratic elections for all, not just some. The DA does not face any of these problems, and thus would seem to be the strongest opposition elected in South Africa in many decades. In effect, vote or no vote, most South Africans have never lived under an opposition this powerful.

Despite that, the DA's growth has not nearly been as strong as they would have liked. The 133 seats they were sitting on earlier in the counting would be a breakthrough, 93 is not. What is important, however, is where the DA have done well. The party has taken 6% of the vote in Limpopo, one of their worst provinces, and finished third behind the EFF at 10%. They have also narrowly missed the opposition in the North West, at 12.70% compared to 13.09% for the EFF. The DA has, however, made a very important strong showing in KZN, where they are sitting at 11.99% ahead of the IFP at 11.35%

Both KZN and NW could swing, however, as counting is not yet complete. So, why is this election so groundbreaking if it's hard to put your finger on it? The answer is this:

This tables shows the Nationwide election results from 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and my projected 2014 numbers. It also shows the expected results in each of the Provincial legislatures, whose names, I unfortunately chopped off while cropping the image. 

In Western Cape, the first entry on the left, the DA wins a government with ANC official opposition (OO) and EFF in 3rd place. 
In Northern Cape, the ANC wins 20 seats, to the DA's 7 seat OO. The DA had been hoping to win the province.
In the NorthWest, the race is close, but the EFF appears set on a 5 seat OO compared to 4 for the DA and 23 for the governing ANC
Eastern Cape has 45 ANC members expected, and a 11 member OO for the DA. The EFF captures only 2 seats.
Limpopo has the ANC as government with 41, the DA at 3, and the EFF snatching the OO at 5
Gauteng, where the results are the most fluid, currently has the ANC with a majority at 40, the DA as OO at 25, and the EFF at 7.
Free State has the ANC at 22, the DA as OO at 5, and EFF at 2.
Mpumalanga has the ANC at 25, the DA at 3 as OO, and the EFF at 2.
KwaZulu-Natal is the most interesting perhaps, with 54 seats, a majority for the ANC, a 10 seat OO for the DA, 9 seats for the IFP, 6 for the NFP, and 1 for the EFF.

What is important is the fact that all 3 "major" parties have managed to take at least 1 seat in each province. If the DA can hold on to it's OO in KZN it also means all Governments and OO are held by the 3 "major" parties. Now we've seen this happen before in the last election, where COPE managed at least 1 seat in every province, as did the DA, and ANC. This happened again in 1999 with the ANC, DA, and National Party. The difference this time is what the parties represent.

The DA and National Party were fighting over the same voters. COPE, while they had a strong showing, never had a strong community or policy base, and was founded by disgruntled ANC members for disgruntled ANC members. The EFF, however, not only has a strong grassroots base, but has clear policies on the far left, and runs to the left of the ANC. 

In the end, the process, I believe, has made South African democracy stronger. I will certainly be keeping my eye out to see if there are any late shifts in vote counting, but do not expect anything major. 


  1. Results today generally conform to what was expected yesterday.

  2. Current national results appear as follows.

    ANC - 255
    DA - 91
    EFF - 25
    IFP - 9
    NFP - 6
    UDM - 4
    VFP - 3
    COPE - 2
    ACDP - 2
    AIC - 2
    AGANG - 1
    PAC - 0
    etc - 0

  3. The election is ground breaking because for the first time since the end of Apartheid the ANC will not posses a two thirds majority in the National Assembly. A two thirds majority is required to alter the constitution and so, the ANC will no longer be able to amend the constitution unilaterally. In short South Africa is slowly moving from a dominant party system into a multi-party system.

    Also your seat numbers are slightly different than what the SABC is reporting.

    1. Your last sentence is both right and wrong. My numbers were what SABC was reporting, but they are no longer. A final post on SA will take place on Saturday, along with an update on some other countries.