The South African government party ANC has achieved the worst election result since the abolition of apartheid in 1994, where the party received only 46percent of the vote in the municipal elections. That is considerably less than the previous low, in 2016, when the late Nelson Mandela‘s party managed to commit only 54 percent of voters.
Plagued by the corruption scandals of recent years and punished for the lack of solutions to the poor basic services in large parts of the country, the ANC has seen its power calving down for a long time. The fact that the aid has fallen below 50% is a hard question for the party that has been the largest in South Africa for almost three decades by distance.
For a long time, it was unthinkable that the ANC would have to share power at the national level in a coalition or forced to step into opposition. That moment has not yet been reached, but that also has to do with the fact that the main opponents of the ANC are always able to attract even fewer voters, despite the steady downturn of the ANC.
Exceptionally low turnout
This is also the case in these municipal elections. The country’s second party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) – which is synonymous with the privileged white minority for many South Africans – remains stuck at 22 percent of the vote. The third party, the radical-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of Julius Malema, who has a black following, also does not go beyond 10 percent.
The majority of voters did not go to the polls at all. To encourage people to cast their votes, Election Day was designated as a public holiday, but only 47 percent of the voters cast a vote. This is more than 10 percent less than in the previous elections, and is explained as an alarming signal about the lack of political commitment from voters.
Coalitions in cities
For the ANC, the results of these municipal elections mean that the party has less influence in municipal councils and can also supply fewer mayors in large and small cities. President Ramaphosa acknowledges that this will irrevocably lead to his party having to enter into coalitions in big cities.
“If we want to make this a new and better era, we as leaders will have to put aside our differences and work together,” said the President. In at least sixty city councils, no party has managed to conquer an absolute majority. New, smaller parties, such as ActionSA in Johannesburg, can therefore play an important role in coalition formation.