Local elections 2016 and the stakes for the ANC

Susan Booysen

Author of Dominance and Decline: The ANC in the Time of Zuma

The stakes are high for the ANC in local election 2016. Local elections these are, but the result will be calculated to assess the trends that the ANC manifests from one election to the next. From 2004 onward at national level and 2006 at local level, the ANC has been on a systematic downward curve when it comes to overall proportional election result. Will the 2016 result confirm of reverse the trend?

A big contributing question will be whether the ANC campaign was sufficient to stall the downward trend of the past decade. In 2004 it reached the high of 69.69 percent in its national result. Its local election peak of 2006 was 67.7 percent. By 2014 the national ANC proportion of the vote was 62.2 percent; the local 62.9. In comparison, the trend for the DA has been a staggered upward one, moving from 12.4 nationally in 2004 to 22.2 in 2014 (and 24.1 percent in local elections 2011). The EFF entered as party in 2014 and registered 6.4 percent. There is little doubt that it will improve on this base and might become confirmed as the fastest growing political party of note in South Africa.

One of the big questions for the ANC in the current election is whether the nowadays fragile monolith will dip below the 60 percent benchmark. Such a dip will obviously not detract substantially from the fact that the ANC will remain strong, and in all probability retain the status of being the biggest, electorally speaking, of all South African political parties.

Yet, should the ANC again – in overall result, proportionately calculated using the PR ballot result – dip by a few percentage points, it will be taken as evidence of an inexorable decline in ANC support. Even more, the projections will be made towards the 50 percent benchmark and it will be evident that the ANC at national level could be under siege, losing its outright majority status nationally in about a decade from now.

As we enter the final stretch of local elections 2016 the outcome remains uncertain. Whether the ANC dips overall below the 60 percent mark, or not, will depend on the combined force of the DA, EFF, a phalanx of minor opposition parties, and groupings of independents eating away at the ANC base.

Given the high-intensity campaigning and party pronouncements that ‘every vote counts’ the turnout might be high. Conventionally a high turnout advantages the ANC and the ANC’s campaign message that the movement is under attack might aid a higher turnout. Similarly, however, the sense amongst opposition party forces of having a chance to break down the 60 percent edifice of ANC power nationally, could contribute to a high turnout that counters the ANC’s edge.




SABC © 2016