The African National Congress (ANC) appeared on course to lose the parliamentary majority it has held for 30 years, partial results from South Africa’s national election showed, in what would be the most dramatic political shift since the end of apartheid.
With results in from 11.3% of polling stations, the ANC’s share of the vote in Wednesday’s election stood at 42.8%, with the pro-business Democratic Alliance (DA) on 25.6% and the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on 8.3%, data from the electoral commission showed.
If the final results were to resemble the early picture, the ANC would be forced to make a deal with one or more other parties to govern – a situation that could lead to unprecedented political volatility in the coming weeks or months.
The South African rand fell 1% against the U.S. dollar in early Johannesburg trade on Thursday, hitting its weakest in four weeks.
Based on the early results, the ANC is projected to have roughly 42% of the vote when the count is over, according to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research which was providing projections to the state broadcaster SABC.
In the previous election in 2019, the ANC won 57.5% of the vote, with 20.8% for the DA and 10.8% for the EFF, on a turnout of 66% of registered voters, which the commission has already said is likely to be higher this time.
Under South Africa’s constitution, the newly elected National Assembly will elect the next president. With the ANC still on course to be the largest party, its leader Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to remain as the country’s president, although a poor showing could make him vulnerable to a leadership challenge from within party ranks.
The ANC has won national elections held every five years since the landmark 1994 election, which marked the end of apartheid and the ascent of Nelson Mandela as president.
But since those heady days the ANC’s support has declined because of disillusionment over issues such as high unemployment and crime, frequent power blackouts and corruption.
The early results showed the ANC on 37.8%, the DA on 28.2%% and the EFF on 11.1% in the key province of Gauteng, which includes the country’s business capital Johannesburg and the sprawling townships of Soweto and Alexandra.