South Africa 2009, an analysis
I posted a short analysis of the results when 11 million votes had been counted. With official results out and seats officially allocated, here is a revised and clearer prediction.
The ANC, of course, dominates, though its stranglehold on power may be loosening. As I said yesterday, if it wasn’t for the Zulus and Zuma, the ANC would have had a very cold shower. The ANC took a big hit in Western Cape, where it probably won a large share of the Coloured and maybe even white (not a whole lot though) vote in 2004. With Zuma, coloured voters seem to have flocked to the DA, giving the DA a result similar to the National Party’s result in WC in 1994. The symbolic loss of the two-thirds majority is also noteworthy.
With 16.7%, the Democratic Alliance has probably reached the maximum it can expect under its present quasi-exclusively white/coloured base. However, 16.7% remains a good result for the official opposition, which faced some tough competition for that role from the Congress of the People. They have made gains almost nationwide, though they lost ground, statistical noise, in one province where they’re very weak anyways. Its result in Western Cape is excellent news for the party, which has managed a quite important feat. However, its map shows a very marked racial divide (whites+coloureds, quasi-exclusively, for the DA), probably even more marked with their huge gains in Western Cape and only small gains in the other provinces. In fact, the DA’s vote in Gauteng Province (21.3%) is statistically quasi-identical to the white population (20%). If the DA wants to expand, they need to expand their base to appeal to blacks.
This is a deceiving result for the COPE. However, it’s not really that surprising. COPE represents something the voters aren’t too fond of and they lack a strong solid base like the ANC has with blacks and the DA has with whites and coloured. They seem stronger in the Cape area, or in the coloured areas. It is undeniable that COPE hasn’t broken through in the black community. For one, it represents something that isn’t widely popular and it’s leadership is far from the populist Zuma whom the black crowds love. Second, Apartheid remains too close and black rights not firmly established yet to let blacks from considering a party other than Mandela’s party and the historic anti-apartheid party. However, with the DA maintaining a narrow base, COPE has the most room to grow, especially if it co-operates decently with the DA.
Opposition parties haven’t really had the chance to prove themselves in power. The only opposition parties that held power at a provincial level since 1994 had much too narrow bases for them to become parties a lot of blacks could vote for in the end: the Afrikaner apartheid National Party (NP) in the Cape and the quasi-exclusively Zulu IFP in KZN. Now that the Democratic Alliance will lead government in Western Cape, probably in coalition with COPE and the Independent Democrats, the opposition that has a realistic chance to expand its electoral base will be able to prove themselves as an alternative to the ANC.
Minor parties had a very rough time. The UDM and the Independent Democrats, anti-corruption parties, suffered a lot from COPE adorning the mantle of good government (ironically enough). All other smaller parties, including VF+, be it the Christian right (ACDP, UCDP) or the various Pan-Africanists have all suffered loses in terms of votes. In 2004, seven parties broke 1% and 10 broke 0.5% (including the Nationals, which are now dead). Today, four break 1% and eight break 0.5%. There appears to be the makings of a consolidation of opposition votes into two parties (DA and COPE) and less and less into a thousand of small fringe parties.
Map is upcoming.