Dive into the South Africa Election 2019 results with us to see who won (you already know who) and how they won.
Since the end of Apartheid and the dawn of universal suffrage in the 1990s, South Africa has again been a one-party state — just the party changed. It has had an African National Congress (ANC) government since 1994 and the days of Nelson Mandela. Over the years, the ANC majority has fluctuated, at one point delivering them a supermajority in the National Assembly. During the days of Jacob Zuma, however, that substantial parliamentary majority waned.
Nevertheless, the ANC had never taken less than 60 percent of the vote in a free election. With the ANC in power 25 years and a rise from some of the smaller parties, the opposition saw an opportunity to deliver a hit to the ANC unlike they had experienced in previous elections.
That hit came for the ANC, though they maintain an overall majority in parliament. Below we have the results for the National Assembly, as well as the South African provincial legislatures. The latter are instrumental in showing where, if anywhere, the opposition made inroads.
South Africa Election 2019 Results: National Assembly
In the end, the ANC lost 19 seats to drop to 230, giving them a 60-seat majority in the National Assembly. While this is remains a comfortable majority, it is their smallest since free elections. During the 2014 election, the ANC’s parliamentary majority was 98 seats as they had 249 total. These results will give some hope to the opposition parties that in 2024, they can reduce the ANC to an even smaller majority, or eliminate it altogether.
South Africa Election 2019 Results: Provincial Legislatures
The ANC did not gain seats overall in any provincial legislature, and to be more clear, lost at least one seat overall in each.
The ANC vote declined by 1.35 percent to 68.74, still leaving them with a substantial majority. Their party has never lost an election in the Eastern Cape since 1994. Though the DA vote also declined, it was by a small enough amount that they did not lose any seats. Economic Freedom Fighters gained over four percent and three seats.
Support for the DA rested mainly in the western part of the province. The eastern reaches were ANC green with very few exceptions.
Free State has a small legislature, so it takes big shifts in the vote to affect seat counts. With the ANC falling by almost nine percent to 61.14, it cost them three seats. Gains were made by both the DA and EFF, with the latter rising by almost four and a half points.
ANC support came through across the province with nothing more than pockets of support for the other parties. Where the DA was strongest came in areas like Tokologo, Letsemeng, Kopanong, and Mangaung (Bloemfontein area). Freedom Front Plus’s support was most prominent in Mafube and Moqhaka, among other areas. The EFF’s only districts won came in Metsimaholo.
Gauteng has long been a target of the Democratic Alliance, especially thanks to local successes there. This was not their breakthrough election, as both the ANC and DA lost seats in the province holding the presidential seat. Gains came to the EFF and Freedom Front Plus, which helped reduce the ANC to their narrowest possible majority of one seat.
The ANC vote share decreased by 3.4 percent to 50.19 percent overall, their narrowest victory in the province in 25 years of free elections.
DA support touched every municipality in the province, including Tshwane and Johannesburg. Ekurhuleni and Midvaal were also good for the opposition. EFF was strongest in Merafong City. Freedom Front Plus also had good results in Merafong as well as Lesedi.
In KZN, the Inkatha Freedom Party became the official opposition thanks to a five and a half percent increase in vote share, passing the DA. The DA gained slightly, but the EFF picked up almost eight points and six seats. As for the ANC, they dropped eight seats and now have a narrow majority of just eight in the provincial legislature.
KwaZulu-Natal has been governed by the ANC since 2004, and the IFP held power for the ten years prior.
The centre of the province was tilted towards the IFP, including such municipalities as Ulundi, Nongoma, uMsinga, and Mthonjaneni. ANC green surrounded it, including in eThekwini (Durban). Along the province’s southern coast, including in Durban, is where DA support registered.
Limpopo is fertile territory for the ANC; 2019 changed nothing in that regard. The ANC lost three points and a seat, but still captured about three-quarters of the provincial vote. In being re-elected with no real opposition, they still saw the Economic Freedom Fighters and Freedom Front Plus each gain a seat. This province saw the lowest voter turnout in 2019 at just 56.4 percent.
Nothing more than small pockets of support formed for any party outside of the ANC, through Modimolle-Mookgophong and Lephalale were particular successes for non-ANC parties.
Mpumalanga, next door to Limpopo and one of two provinces holding the Kruger, is also in lock-step with the ANC. Unlike Limpopo, however, the ANC took a bigger hit of 7.65 percent, costing them two seats. Still, they have 22 out of 30, which is not at all a bad day at the polls.
The Economic Freedom Fighters came in second place and will form the official opposition, with the DA falling into third place. Freedom Front Plus also won a new seat.
ANC support was strong almost everywhere in spite of the drop in vote share.
Northern Cape re-elected their ANC government by a more narrow margin this time, leaving them with a six-seat majority. The ANC dropped two seats to 18 after losing almost seven percent of vote share. The Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, and Freedom Front Plus all gained vote share and a seat each.
Every Northern Cape election since 1994 has been won by the ANC, with 18 seats being their lowest total since the 1994 election. In an interesting electoral footnote, Northern Cape has had four consecutive female premiers.
Many districts within the Northern Cape went for the DA. The party almost swept Karoo Hoogland, Ikheis, and Emthanjeni, while the ANC was stronger in enough places overall to win the day.
North West saw a five and a half percent hit to the ANC vote share, which lowered the party by two seats. Economic Freedom Fighters and Freedom Front Plus each gained one seat while the Democratic Alliance held steady on four. Like so many other provinces in South Africa, since 1994, North West has only ever had ANC premiers.
Despite the ANC’s big win, Freedom Front Plus had a number of successes in individual precincts, including in Kgetlengrivier, JB Marks, and Lekwa-Teemane.
The Western Cape is a Democratic Alliance stronghold. They were re-elected, though with a reduced majority, while the ANC also lost seats. Julius Malema’s party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, increased their share while a DA splinter party, GOOD, also maintained their position in the legislature.
More politically competitive than any other province, Western Cape has had three different parties govern it. The New National Party led for ten years, then the ANC were in charge for five, and now the Democratic Alliance for the last ten.
DA support was strong almost everywhere in the province, from Knysna to Cape Town to Overstrand. North of the city the ANC had some successes, as well as in Cape Town proper.
South Africa Election 2019 Results: Analysis
It’s hard to believe that a party that won a healthy majority government had a “bad” result, but that is what is being couched about the ANC’s election performance. Consider it like how Yankees fans or Patriots fans feel in a year where they do not win the whole thing, except the ANC did.
The fact remains that no other party except the ANC is in any position to form a government any time soon. It has been a very slow bleed of support for the ANC of a few percentage points a year. At their peak in 2009, the ANC had 297 out of 400 seats in the National Assembly, now down to 230, but it took 10 years to get there. South Africa is in no mood for change.
Even if the ANC were to somehow lose their overall majority next time, the gains will be divided amongst a variety of different opposition parties. In the unlikely event that every single party on the opposition benches aligned to get the ANC out, then that would get people to take notice, but otherwise, the ANC will be South Africa’s largest party (by far) and government for the foreseeable future.
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