South Africa Elections

An Expat's Take on the Elections in South Africa

On Wednesday 7 May 2014 in democratic South Africa elections were held for the fifth time. With a population of 51 million South Africans almost one third of the people cast their vote for the new government. The fifth democratic and independent elections were held in the twentieth year after the abolition of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

South African Elections 2014

Jacob Zuma
Helen Zille

In 2014, roughly 25.4 million of all South Africans registered with the IEC. Almost half of the registered voters (49.7%) were under 40 years old. All South Africans from the age of 18 have the right to vote, but must register to do so. About half of the population registered in the 2014 elections which constituted the highest number of registrations since the first democratic elections in 1994.

In the 2014 elections, a total of 29 political parties took part contesting nationwide for the seats in the National Assembly of the South African Parliament.

The two major parties are the African National Congress (ANC), headed by President Jacob Zuma and the major opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA), headed by Helen Zille who is also the premier of the Western Cape.

South Africa Election Results 2014

African National Congress - ANC:    62.15% 

Democratic Alliance - DA:               22.23% 

Economic Freedom Fighters - EFF:    6.35%

Inkartha Freedom Party - IFP:          2.4%

All other 25 parties were under 1% and of these only 9 managed to have the minimal votes to gain a seat in the national assembly

In the National Elections in 2014, the majority of the votes was won by the ANC, dropping from 65.9% in the 2009 elections. In 2009, the strongest opposition parties were the DA (Democratic Alliance) with 16,6% and COPE (Congress of the People) with 7,4%who was formed mainly by former ANC politicians who split from the party due to infighting in 2009, however COPE lost tremendously over the last years and only reached less than 1% of the votes in 2014.

In the Western Cape, the Democratic Alliance won the provincial elections 2009 for the first time with an overwhelming majority of 51,4%. The ANC lost a huge number of votes and got only 31% of the ballots in 2009, however, gained slightly again in 2014, reaching 34%. Helen Zille, the opposition leader of the Democratic Alliance, who then was the mayor of Cape Town, is still today the premier minister of the Western Cape. The Western Cape is in 2014 still a stronghold of DA supporters with an increased support base of 57% of the population.

South African expatriates: Election Results

How did the South African expatriates living abroad vote in the 2014 elections?

It is interesting to note that the out-of-country results, counting all the votes cast from South Africans abroad, the picture looks differently.

The majority of South Africans living abroad, would have voted the DA into power with 84.44%. Only a small minority of 8.32% voted for the ANC to stay in government. The third placed EFF only was supported by 1.81% of the voters.

In 2009, for the first time, also South African expariates living abroad were able to cast their votes on April 15, 2009 at the foreign missions. Of the 9857 South African abroad who voted at these foreign missions, the opposition party DA won 75% of the votes.

The topic of national elections and a change in the cabinet always creates insecurity among many population groups in regards to the future direction of a country. 

An article published by the Cape Argus on the day after the previous elections in 2009 gave a dire picture of the support of the South African people who took part in their readers' survey:

Of the total votes 59% are ready to pack and go (24%) or have already left (33%) and only 41 % are prepared to come home now (8%) or are alright with the current situation (33%). 

Julius Malema

Much speculation is still around, especially Julius Malema and his EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters) are polarising the country. A populist he is finding support especially in rural areas and townships. Outspoken and eccentric, he is putting much emphasis in taking president Zuma to account for his over-spending and non- compliance with the public protector's published report concerning his upgraded Nkandla home. Asking the president to 'pay back the money' is his most popular remark.

About Elections in South Africa

The first democratic elections after four decades of Apartheid ruling were held in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first democratically elected president. In 2014, South Africa celebrated 20 years of democracy.

In the South Africa elections, the South African people decide with their two votes which party will gain the most seats in the National Assembly and which party will have seats in the provincial legislature of the province they live in. Thus, with their votes they elect only their preferred party as the new South African president will be nominated at a later stage by the party winning the majority of votes.

The South African president is thus elected every five years by the National Assembly and the National council of the nine provinces. The South African parliament consists of 400 parlamentarians which were voted into their seats through the public elections.

During the elections, there were more than 300 international observers who had a watchful eye on the polls and declared the elections fair, free and transparent.

More on the Elections in 2009

In 2009 there were 19,700 polling stations across South Africa, the voting districts were so different, that some stations were so small with only 6 registered voters and some expected thousands of South African.

The polling stations had to be opened longer at some places as there were long queues of people who had not voted by the time the stations were supposed to close. The Cape Argus called it therefore "The all-night election".

23 million voters registered out of the South Africa's 49 million inhabitants. In the Western Province with Cape Town as the capital 73% of the 2.6 million registered South Africans had voted by The voter turnout was high in many places again. In Cape Town which is the biggest voting district in the Western Province 77% cast their ballots.

South Africa Election Resources

If you are interested to read about the voting experiences of South Africans during the elections, read some great reports here. .

Where to get the past South Africa elections results? Take a look at the IEC (Independent Electoral Commissions) Homepage .

Get more insights into the topicSouth Africa elections at this special independent elections guide with media analysis supported by the Times 

Return from South Africa elections to ExpatCapeTown Homepage 

More facts on South African population 

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