Posted on May 31, 2024

South Africans Turn Away From Ruling Party, Early Election Results Show

Lynsey Chutel, New York Times, May 30, 2024

South Africans were on edge Thursday as votes trickled in from a tight national election, with early returns showing poor results for the African National Congress, the party that has governed the country for three decades.

While official results are not expected before the weekend, projections show that the party, known as the A.N.C., is likely to draw under 50 percent of the vote, down from 57.5 percent in the last election five years ago.

That would mean the A.N.C. — for the first time — would need to form a coalition with one or more rival parties in order to stay in power. In South Africa’s parliamentary system, President Cyril Ramaphosa, the leader of the African National Congress, would need the support of members of the opposition in order to serve a second term.


With about half of all voter districts counted, the early results showed the A.N.C. with 43 percent, and trailing in critical provinces that it won handily in the last election.


There are 51 opposition parties vying for voters. The largest, the Democratic Alliance, is led by John Steenhuisen, a white politician in a majority-Black country. Before the election, the Democratic Alliance formed an alliance with smaller opposition parties.

Without support from the Democratic Alliance, the A.N.C. may have to form a coalition with the next-largest opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, a leftist party that has strong support among young voters. Its leader, Julius Malema, formed the Economic Freedom Fighters in 2013 after he was expelled from the A.N.C.’s youth league.