South African Elections 2019

Published 14 May 2019

South African Elections 2019

In its 25 April edition, just a fortnight before the elections, the Economist suggested Cyril Ramaphosa as “South Africa’s best bet” to fix its growing socio-economic and political challenges. On 8 May voters perhaps agreed with the Economist – they expressed their support to Ramaphosa by giving him a mandate of 57.5% of the vote, although this is less than his predecessors.

Prior to elections, polls put the ANC at between 49 and 55%. The opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) was expected to increase its vote share to 24% - 27% and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) were expected to double their vote share to 14%, mostly at the expense of the ANC.

An initial analysis would argue that the electorate has expressed confidence in Cyril Ramaphosa and to an extent in the ANC. The ANC secured 57.5% of the votes – significantly less than its 2014 result of 62%. The main opposition Democratic Alliance received 20.7% of the votes, lower than 2014 elections, and the EFF won 10.7%, an increase of 4% – both scoring less than polls predicted. In provinces too, the ANC fared much better than predicted. It managed to keep all the provinces but one – the Western Cape – including the most keenly contested Gauteng province. The ANC's victory in Gauteng province is symbolic, as it is considered the economic heartland of South Africa and the Democratic Alliance was poised to take control of the province, replicating its success in Western Cape. The ANC's 50.19% vote share in this province, will, however, mean a very thin working majority for the ANC in the provincial Parliament of Gauteng.

Based on their vote share, a total of 14 parties secured seats in the sixth parliament. The biggest winner is the EFF, which added 19 seats taking its total to 44 seats, giving a platform for Julius Malema, the EFF Leader. Another party which won more seats was the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Plus (a coalition of IFP and Freedom Front (FF)), which together won 24 seats. The IFP has a much stronger regional base in KwaZulu-Natal province, from where it receives the majority of its votes, but they failed to win control of the province – a legislature they lost to the ANC in 2004 elections.

The ANC still has a commanding 230 seats in Parliament, although it is 35 seats short of a two-thirds majority, which would allow it to reform the constitution. The main opposition, the Democratic Alliance lost five seats and now have 84. for the Leader, Mmusi Maimane’s was hoping to increase the vote share. DA also failed to win the Gauteng province,

The Parliament of the Republic of South Africa will see three new parties, two of which – Patricia de Lille’s Good party and Mzwanele Manyi’s ATM party, each with two seats – will enter the Parliament for the first time.

South Africans will now observe how the Ramaphosa government finds solutions to South Africa’s social and economic challenges while curbing corruption.