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South Africa

Polling hints at opposition breakthrough

Opinion surveys forecasting the ANC vote to fall well under 50% has raised the opposition coalition's hopes of unseating the ruling party in next year's election

Public support for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the first post-apartheid elections in 1994, appears to have dropped significantly according to new polling which suggests that the opposition alliance is gaining traction.

Only 45% of voters would back the ANC if the election were held tomorrow, compared with 52% in March, according to the Social Research Foundation (SRF), which surveyed 1,412 registered voters in October. The centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) are on 31% and Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on 9%, according to the poll.

The polling suggests that the ANC is on course for its worst election performance since 1994.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC took 57.5% of the vote in 2019, a figure that was down from 62% in 2014. Its vote share dipped below 50% in a national election for the first time at local polls in 2021.

Though a 14% lead suggests that the ANC will almost certainly top the poll in next year's general elections, the 31% share for the DA is the opposition party's best score for many years.

The polling numbers suggest that the ANC could be reliant on EFF support to form a majority. This time the opposition appears determined to pull out all the stops. Seven small political parties – though not the EFF – agreed to a coalition pact in August to prevent the ANC from forming a government, should it not win outright.

The so-called 'Multi-party Charter', which includes the Freedom Front Plus and the Inkatha Freedom Party, features an agreement on power sharing and the structure of a possible Cabinet.

However, the ANC believes that the party machine and new public spending, including basic income grants and public works projects, will get out the vote, particularly among young people (AC Vol 64 No 19, Despite everything, the ANC charts a path to victory).

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