Wednesday, January 19

SA voting dynamics: no longer a race between the big three


The number of political parties in South Africa has increased significantly since the 19 that participated in the first democratic election. in 1994. Both of them 2011 and 2016 saw the number of political parties grow. But this year the number has increased exponentially.

Currently, more than 500 are registered with the Independent Electoral Commission. More than 300 will participate in the November 2021 Local Government Elections. In addition, more than 1,500 independent candidates will participate in the survey.

In this context, there are divergent opinions about the uniqueness of this choice compared to the previous ones.

Despite the increase in the number of participants in this election, some see the race as still Among the African National Congress (ANC), which dominates the National Assembly and leads the country, and the two major opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

A contrary view is that the political landscape has broadened, thus expanding competition. beyond the three main parties.

Based on my academic work as a political scientist and historian specializing in African political and historical issues, I think either of these positions is plausible. But I think it is more plausible for the smaller political parties to upset the three main parties, given the changed political landscape.

The rise in political parties running candidates and the explosion in the number of independents means that it is no longer simply a race between the big three.

Factors at play

First of all, it is important to remember that this is a municipal vote, not national and provincial elections. Local elections provide a platform for a wider range of political parties.

Second, the fact that the number of new political parties has increased significantly could mean that the plans of the three main parties are derailed. In general, the new parties are made up of politicians who were once associated with the three main parties. Some even enjoy a good following.

In all likelihood, their supporters and supporters could vote for them, keeping the votes away from the big players.

Third, the increase in the number of independent candidates poses a challenge for the three main political parties. Even if none of them attract a larger following, they could get enough of the three main political parties to deny them control of the municipalities.

Depending on the popularity of the ANC, DA and EFF in a given municipality, independent candidates can win seats or simply get enough votes to deny any of the three main parties an absolute majority.

Fourth, with so many political parties and so many independent candidates, the prospect of coalitions in certain municipalities is a reality that cannot be ignored. While it is true that the ANC, DA and EFF enjoy more support compared to the other parties, there is the possibility that smaller parties will unite against the big three to run some municipalities.

Fifth, not all provinces are the same. In KwaZulu-Natal, for example, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) cannot be ignored. In fact, it represents a greater threat to the ANC than the DA and EFF combined.

Aside from the fact that the Inkatha Freedom Party has strategically retained its founder, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, as its face and a draw card, has also benefited from the mistakes made by both the ANC and the National Freedom Party. The National Freedom Party did well in 2011 but did not participate in the 2016 elections.

Internal disputes within the ANC and the National Freedom Party benefited the Inkatha Freedom Party in the 2016 local elections. Some of its members and supporters did not vote or simply voted for the Inkatha Freedom Party.

While there may have been a slight change in each of these parties as they tried to regroup, the reality is that they are not united yet.

On the other hand, the Inkatha Freedom Party seems to be sailing smoothly in KwaZulu-Natal. Therefore, in this election, it is likely that it will win more municipalities than in 2016.

Voter apathy

Another difficult factor to ignore is voter apathy. While it is true that many South Africans are members or supporters of the ANC, DA and EFF, the poor condition of local municipalities – lack of water, sometimes none, broken infrastructure and neglect – has tarnished the spirit of the electorate.

Voters can choose to stay away. Already some they have indicated that they will not vote for lack of provision of the service.

Another related point is that other political parties could win a municipality due to a combination of factors. They would have their own members, other supporters who do not belong to any political party, new voters, as well as some disgruntled members of the three main political parties.

Therefore, it is too simplistic to argue that the race for the 2021 local government elections is only between the ANC, on the one hand, and the DA and EFF, on the other. It remains indisputable that at the national level, the DA and the FEP are the second and third most important political parties.

But when it comes to local elections, this trend is not guaranteed.The conversation

Bheki Mngomezulu, Professor of Political Science, University of the Western Cape

This article is republished from The conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the Original article.


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