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What to watch for in the SA elections
5 May 2014

In a media briefing on Monday 5 May, ISS elections analyst Jonathan Faull outlined some of the issues he will be monitoring on Wednesday, 7 May.

Gauteng is the key battleground

  • ‘There will be a shift in Gauteng voting patterns from the patterns established in previous elections. The African National Congress (ANC) could lose a significant share of the 64% it won in 2009, but is unlikely to fall below 50%.
  • ‘There is a constituency within the ANC vote in Gauteng – to generalise, historically poor and urban – who are frustrated with the pace of change and what they perceive to be a self-interested ruling elite. It is this particular subset of the ANC vote that may switch voting allegiances in 2014, making the province a potentially rich hunting ground for the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
  • ‘Ironically – given the vastly different policy platforms of the two parties – the DA and EFF are directly competing for the same voters. In the absence of the EFF, the DA would have been in a far stronger position to woo this vote in Gauteng.
  • ‘The 2014 election will lay the groundwork for the vital 2016 local government elections, which will see a fierce contest for Johannesburg. If the DA continues to build its growth constituencies and ensure high turnout of its supporters, and the EFF can consolidate and build a base in the province, there is a distinct possibility that the ANC will lose Johannesburg in 2016.’

Western Cape not much of a contest

  • ‘The Western Cape will be won by the DA, which is likely to return to power with a more powerful majority.
  • ‘The story in the Western Cape is one of ANC decline and DA ascendence. The DA has run a good campaign on the merits of its record, while the ANC has run an uninspired campaign that has been hamstrung by factional infighting.
  • ‘Anecdotal evidence suggests that ANC registration statistics were particularly poor in the Western Cape, undermining the party’s ability to reap the dividend of widespread migration from the Eastern Cape – historically an ANC heartland.’

EFF could underperform

  • ‘There is a strong possibility that the EFF will underperform relative to its showing in opinion polls. The new party will have been squeezed hard by both the ANC and DA in the last days of the campaign. As the party attempts to get out their vote, it will rely on comparatively under-resourced and inexperienced party structures and volunteers.
  • ‘The EFF must battle against complacency and losing voters to apathy, particularly given the young profile of its voters.
  • ‘Despite vociferous campaigning on land reform, the EFF is likely to win more votes in urban areas than rural.’

Turnout is the most important issue

  • ‘In general, high turnout nationally is good for the ANC, and low turnout better for the DA. In the context of the national election, high and ascendant ANC turnout in KwaZulu-Natal could prove to be critical for the ANC due to its role in offsetting ANC losses in other provinces.’

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