South Africa votes on Wednesday for the most contested legislative elections since the end of apartheid, where the ANC in power for 30 years risks losing its absolute majority in Parliament for the first time.

Polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. (05:00 GMT) until 9 p.m. (19:00 GMT) and the day has been declared a public holiday. Final results are not expected before the weekend. It is Parliament which will then elect the next president in June.

Some 27.6 million registered voters will vote for proportional lists. They will have to check two separate ballots to elect their deputies: a blue one with lists composed at the national level, a second orange, presenting roughly the same parties but with a mix of more local names.

Finally, they will have to form a cross on a third ballot, pink in color, to elect their provincial assemblies and will leave with a thumb marked with indelible ink, to limit fraud.

This election is “without a doubt the most unpredictable since 1994”, notes political analyst Daniel Silke.

Due to growing disillusionment with the ANC, and “its inability to ensure economic growth and create jobs” in particular, but also to curb poverty, inequality, crime or the provision of water and electricity, the dominant party must prepare for “a result potentially below 50%”.

– “Instability” –
Which means, if this scenario were confirmed, that he will have to form a coalition to stay in power and “will need one or more partners to govern”. The nature of these alliances, more towards the liberal center or to its left, will determine “the future direction of South Africa”.

If the ANC's score is better than announced (between 40 and 47% according to the polls), namely just below 50%, it will then only need a few parliamentarians from small parties to maintain its general line.

Participation has steadily declined over the five-year terms, going from 89% in 1999 to 66% in the last elections in 2019.

Due to a fragmented opposition, all observers expect the ANC to remain the largest party in Parliament, where it currently has 230 out of 400 MPs.

But its “power” linked to its aura as an ancient liberation movement, which took the country out of the clutches of apartheid, is weakening. “This of course creates opportunities” for the country, notes Mr. Silke, “but in the meantime, it promises an unstable and unpredictable immediate future.”

The largest opposition group, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which manages the city and the province around Cape Town, promises to “save South Africa” ​​and in particular its economy. She could win around 25% of the votes cast.

On the left, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of the provocateur Julius Malema, could stagnate around 10% of the votes.


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