In a groundbreaking Ipsos poll, South Africa’s ruling party, the ANC, faces the prospect of losing its majority in the upcoming elections, marking a significant shift since 1994. The populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) witness a surge in support, potentially altering the political landscape. Ipsos’ survey, conducted face-to-face with 3,600 individuals, indicates the ANC may need a coalition partner with 4% to 6% national support to form a government. The Democratic Alliance remains the chief opposition, while alliances and shifting loyalties add complexity to the unfolding political scenario.
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By Ana Monteiro
South Africa’s ruling party looks set to lose its outright majority in national elections for the first time since 1994, while support for the populist Economic Freedom Fighters may rise, an Ipsos poll found.
In all three scenarios outlining high, medium and low voter turnout, the African National Congress would garner less than 47% of votes, suggesting it would need a coalition with a smaller party to form a government, Ipsos said. It conducted the survey face to face with 3,600 people from Oct. 23 to Dec. 1 and published the results Tuesday.
“In the event of such an election outcome, the ANC would only require a party with about 4% to 6% national support as a coalition partner to establish a national government,” Ipsos said in a statement.
The results tally with a Bloomberg survey of political analysts released Feb. 5, which showed that while the ANC risks losing its majority, it should be able to form a governing coalition with smaller parties rather than having to enlist its main rivals. The election must be held by August, though a date has yet to be announced.
The Democratic Alliance — currently the main opposition — is likely to retain that position, with 20.2% to 21% of the vote across the three turnout scenarios, according to Ipsos. The EFF’s support ranges from 16.7% to 18.5%, compared with 10.8% in the 2019 election.
The DA has entered into an alliance known as the Multi-Party Charter with 10 rivals, including the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Freedom Front Plus and Action SA, and they all agreed they won’t work with the ANC or the EFF. It’s unclear whether any of them might renege on that commitment should their leaders be offered cabinet posts or other positions.
The EFF, which was founded in 2013 by Julius Malema, a former leader of the ANC’s youth wing, would be in contention for a power-sharing deal should support for the ruling party drop significantly below 50%. The EFF has had a fractious relationship with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, but has co-ruled with the ANC in some municipalities.
Ipsos canvassed opinions prior to former President Jacob Zuma endorsing the newly formed uMkhonto WeSizwe party in December. The ex-leader — who remains popular in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal — was suspended from the ANC in January and his defection may cost the ruling party votes.
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