Survey: Ruling party may lose majority

2008-12-11 00:00

Even before the formation of breakaway party, Congress of the People (COPE), about 20% of ANC supporters indicated that they would vote for a new political party that is similar to the ANC.

This was a key finding of an Ipscos Markinor survey carried out early in October, just days after former president Thabo Mbeki was recalled from his post.

Markinor carries out twice-yearly surveys — in May and in October — to keep a finger on the political pulse of the nation. In light of the changes in the country, Media 24 commissioned Markinor to raise specific questions about the leadership issue and whether voters would vote for a new party, similar to the ANC, if such a party was established.

According to Mari Harris of Markinor, the latest survey showed that the leadership uncertainty had created a dent in the ANC support base. She said believed the party will get less than its expected 60% of votes in the 2009 election.

This is in contrast to Markinor’s May findings, which saw voters rally behind the ANC and confirmed that if there was an election, the ANC would maintain its two-thirds majority.

The poll threw up some interesting information on how voters view their leaders. Harris said former deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was seen as the most popular candidate to lead a new political party.

Almost half of the ANC supporters mentioned her as a potential leader of a new party. Mosiuoa Lekota ranked second and Trevor Manual third.

Other key findings include:

• All eligible voters felt uncertain whether ANC president Jacob Zuma would be able to unite the ANC after Mbeki’s recall from office. ANC supporters, however, were more positive about Zuma’s role in the party, but still half of the ANC supporters were either negative or unsure of his ability to unite the party.

• There was also uncertainty about President Kgalema Motlanthe’s role going forward and less than half of the ANC supporters believed Motlanthe could unite the ANC following the divisions at Polokwane and its aftermath

• Voters showed a strong preference for Cyril Ramaphosa and Tokyo Sexwale to play a bigger role in politics — more than half of ANC supporters agreed with this.

• There was a call for moderate political leaders to lead the ANC.

Harris said the survey showed that on the whole, ANC supporters are loyal to their party and unless they are provided with a credible alternative, they will continue to vote for the ANC. She said that Cope’s credibility as an alternative will depend on how it positions itself and if it is able to attract big names like Mlambo-Ngcuka into its leadership.

The survey was done in October among 3 500 randomly selected adults from all walks of life and geographical areas in South Africa.

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