FF Plus leaders Corné Mulder, Pieter Groenewald and Wouter Wessels. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Standing around at the Western Cape electoral centre at about 12:00 on Thursday, FF Plus Western Cape leader Corné Mulder was smiling broadly.
And with reason.
At that stage, the party showed unprecedented growth and if their figures held, would "slaan terug" to obtain seats in the Western Cape legislature, which it could not do before.
At about 12:00, the FF Plus had about 2% of the counted Western Cape votes. The party obtained 0.5% of the provincial vote in 2014.
"For me, this is very good. In the last election, we hardly had 0.5%. If our figures hold, we will have representation in the Western Cape legislature.
"If our figures hold, we should also get someone elected to the National Assembly off the Western Cape regional list.
"I said from the start that in the Western Cape, it will be a race between six or so parties out of the 34 [who competed in the Western Cape]. The results confirm this. There are a lot of parties who are just here."
Hitting back at the DA, Mulder said he was concerned about the DA's negative campaigning - or "scaremongering" as he called it - when they told the Western Cape's electorate that only the DA could keep the ANC and EFF out.
He said almost double the number of Western Cape voters voted for the FF Plus on the national ballot, meaning a substantial amount split their votes "to try and stop [the ANC and EFF], apparently".
"It does have a negative effect on us."
He says he suspects that their growth came from minority groups, which the party has courted in the run-up to the election, and white, Afrikaans-speaking voters disaffected by the DA.
At the time of News24's chat with Mulder, the FF Plus was the fourth biggest party on the national ballot, with around 4% of the counted votes.
This also had a lot to do with Mulder smiling broadly.
"It is a remarkable achievement, to grow with almost 3% on 0.9%."
However, he expected the IFP to catch up and pass them after the votes from rural KwaZulu-Natal are counted. He thinks they will end up being the fifth biggest party.
"I don't see another party catching us."
Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.
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