No surprises in South Africa

With most of the votes now counted from Wednesday’s election, the opinion polls look to have been very accurate. (See my preview here.) The ANC will have a large majority, but down slightly from the previous parliament and again short of the two-thirds mark.

With 95.1% of districts counted, the ANC is running at 62.5% (down 3.4% from 2009) to 22.0% for the Democratic Alliance (up 5.3%). Well back in third place is the new entrant, the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters, with 6.1%. The Inkatha Freedom Party has 2.4% and its breakaway the National Freedom Party 1.6%; their combined total is down slightly from the IFP’s 4.6% last time.

The big loser was the Congress of the People, once touted as a rival to the ANC, down from 7.4% to just 0.7%. Just ahead of it are the centrist United Democratic Movement on 1.0% and the Afrikaner-based Freedom Front Plus on 0.9%.

The electoral system is not exactly proportional, with provincial lists as well as national ones, but it’s as close as doesn’t matter: if you assume the 400 seats will be distributed in proportion to total votes you’re unlikely to be out by more than a handful. On that basis it will be something like ANC 256, DA 90, EFF 25, IFP 9, NFP 6, UDM 4, FF+ 3 and COPE 2.

At provincial level, the Democratic Alliance has comfortably held control of Western Cape, with 58.8% of the vote to the ANC’s 33.5%. The other eight provinces will stay firmly in the hands of the ANC.

The BBC reports that “the ANC is likely to use its impressive mandate to try to drive through its National Development Plan – rejecting nationalisation, and emphasising investment and infrastructure,” and mentions that in that event the EFF will be there to exert pressure on its left flank.

Updates to come if anything interesting changes.


*UPDATE* 3.15am Saturday, South African time

With 100% of districts counted, the numbers have barely changed, although Economic Freedom Fighters continued their trend of gaining in the late counting. It’s ANC 62.1%, Democratic Alliance 22.2%, EFF 6.4%, IFP 2.4% and NFP 1.6%.

Turnout was 73.4%, down almost 4% on 2009.


*FURTHER UPDATE* 8.40am Monday, South African time

The results page, which is still described as “provisional”, now has a seat allocation, as follows: ANC 249, DA 89, EFF 25, IFP 10, NFP 6, UDM 4, FF+ 4, COPE 3, others 10. That’s very close to the estimates I made on Friday, although it looks as if their allocation formula is a bit more favorable to smaller parties.

It means the ANC will be 18 seats short of a two-thirds majority, down 15 on its 2009 result, while the Democratic Alliance has gained 22 seats. That’s a creditable result for the opposition, but still leaves it some way short of being a fully-fledged alternative government.

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