Ralph Mathekga

#LGE2016: Turnout key to understanding how people voted

2016-08-05 06:23
IEC. (Elmarie Jack, News24)

IEC. (Elmarie Jack, News24)

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Ralph Mathekga

The 2016 local government elections have had a “slight increase” in terms of the voter turnout at 58%, according to the IEC. Compared to previous local government elections held in 2011, there has been a one percent increase of the turnout. This is not a significant shift at all; it’s quite steady. Yet the turnout is going to be very critical in understanding how people voted across the country.

While the turnout remains largely the same compared to previous local government elections, the distribution of the turnout across various voting districts might be something that has not been seen before.

There seems to be a high level of turnout in areas that are known to support to the DA, while the turnout remains moderate in areas known to support the ANC. To make a conclusion out of this, one would have to take a closer look at voting districts and assess how many people did show up to vote in different areas. What can be said, however, is that the turnout could become a decider regarding how political parties preform compared to each other.

There seems to be a strong indication that DA voters turned out in higher numbers than the ANC voters. This does not mean that the DA will perform better than the ANC; it only means that the ANC’s ability to outdo the DA is undermined by lower turnout among ANC voters. This could be a source of the big gains made by the DA in the elections, particularly in urban metros such a City of Johannesburg.

In the previous local government elections, the DA enjoyed early leads, as votes from suburbs are the first to be counted in. The early lead by the DA was often drastically reduced when the votes from the townships started to trickle in, showing that the higher number of voters are located in areas that are traditionally known to support the ANC.  This might not be the case this year, because the areas known to support the ANC seems to have recorded lower turnout.

Another important factor about the turnout is that in those areas where the ANC is known to enjoy wider support, in townships, there is a third force in the form of EFF.

Therefore, the ability of the ANC voters to drastically reduce the DA’s lead, is undermined by the EFF’s competition in those townships. The DA seems not be having competitions from the EFF in its traditional support base as the suburbs of Johannesburg, for example.

When all votes are counted and it is clear how many people voted in different voting districts, an interesting story might emerge about how the turnout has been crucial in these elections. The DA seems to have made a compelling case for its voters to turn out, while the ANC has had difficulties convincing its disgruntled voters to come to the party’s rescue.

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Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  local elections 2016
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