THE CAST­ING VOTE

The way things stand now, it looks as if the EFF might de­ter­mine whether the DA or the ANC wins power in Gaut­eng in the next pro­vin­cial elec­tion

Financial Mail - - FEATURE / GAUTENG ELECTIONS - Gareth van Onse­len

There is much spec­u­la­tion about the sce­nar­ios that could play out na­tion­ally and in the var­i­ous prov­inces come the 2019 elec­tions. But about Gaut­eng it is pos­si­ble to be fairly con­crete: it is go­ing to be ex­tremely close, and there is a re­al­is­tic chance that the op­po­si­tion could win con­trol from the ANC.

The per­for­mance of three par­ties — the ANC, the DA and the

EFF — will be defin­ing. If it comes down to the wire, a bloc of seven smaller par­ties, in­di­vid­u­ally or col­lec­tively, could de­ter­mine the na­ture of the fi­nal pro­vin­cial govern­ment.

Of these par­ties, the EFF is per­haps the big­gest enigma. While trends over time demon­strate that the ANC is de­clin­ing in Gaut­eng and, con­versely, that the DA is grow­ing, it is dif­fi­cult to say ex­actly how and in which di­rec­tion the EFF is mov­ing, be­cause it has stood in only one round of na­tional elec­tions. Its fi­nal per­for­mance in 2019 is likely to be all im­por­tant.

With re­gard to the ANC, its sup­port in Gaut­eng, in ab­so­lute num­bers, has re­mained rel­a­tively sta­ble. In the four pro­vin­cial elec­tions since 1999, the num­ber of votes it has se­cured in each is as fol­lows: 2.48m (1999); 2.33m (2004); 2.66m; (2009) and 2.38m (2014). That is an av­er­age of 2.44m votes, and there has been no sig­nif­i­cant fluc­tu­a­tion (the range has been just 330,892 votes).

It sug­gests a solid, re­li­able core sup­port base.

The prob­lem the ANC has is that the vot­ing pool — the num­ber of reg­is­tered vot­ers — has grown each elec­tion (from 4.15m in 1999 to 6.06m in 2014). Thus, as a per­cent­age of that grow­ing pool, its share of the vote has de­creased dra­mat­i­cally. In 1999, the ANC’S 2.48m votes rep­re­sented 59.8% of

What it means: The ANC has been un­able to win new sup­port in Gaut­eng and shows no signs of be­ing able to grow or­gan­i­cally

all reg­is­tered vot­ers in Gaut­eng. By 2014, its 2.34m votes rep­re­sented just 38.7% of the to­tal vot­ing pool. Thus its fi­nal per­cent­age of the vote has dropped from a high of 67.9% in 1999 to 53.6% in 2014.

The truth is that the ANC has been un­able to win new sup­port, par­tic­u­larly among the youth. Its sup­port has stag­nated and shows no signs of be­ing able to grow or­gan­i­cally.

The DA, by con­trast, has gone from strength to strength in Gaut­eng, both in per­cent­age and in ab­so­lute terms. In 1999 it man­aged 17.97% or 658,231 votes; in 2004 it grew to 20.78% or 708,081 votes; in 2009 it grew again, to 21.86% or 908,616 votes; and, in 2014 it grew most sig­nif­i­cantly, to 30.78% or 1,349,001 votes.

As a re­sult, its share of the to­tal Gaut­eng vot­ing pop­u­la­tion has also grown, from 15.8% in 1999 to

22.2% in 2014. It has, over 15 years, more than dou­bled its sup­port in ab­so­lute terms in the prov­ince.

It means the DA ben­e­fits from a greater num­ber of new reg­is­tered vot­ers, as dis­pro­por­tion­ately more of them are vot­ing DA over time. The DA will pour great en­ergy into en­sur­ing that it takes full ad­van­tage of the reg­is­tra­tion week­ends that pre­cede the 2019 elec­tion, seek­ing to max­imise the num­ber of new vot­ers it can reg­is­ter. So, much of its po­ten­tial rests on this.

The EFF, how­ever, is where things start to get more am­bigu­ous. It is not ideal to com­pare na­tional and lo­cal elec­tion re­sults sets, but since the party has com­peted in only one of each, it is nec­es­sary. And, within those

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