The 2021 Local Government Election (LGE) saw the lowest voter turnout ever and the ANC’s national share of the vote drop below 50% for the first time. We saw that many voters that had historically supported the ANC withheld their support for the party. And rather than supporting another party, they withheld their vote entirely.
The LGE and by-election results do indicate that we are moving away from the ANC being at the center of our politics. This dramatic shift may happen in the 2024 General Elections, where the party could lose its majority.
The problem is, it’s highly unlikely that there will a credible alternative to the ANC that would represent large sections of the electorate. Building these alternatives must gain momentum now, but will take years to materialise.
“At MVC, we’re calling this strategic voting. But more on this in the next few months.”
So, 2024 could mean an unstable national coalition government and worsened political instability.
The spectacle in the collapsing City of Joburg which gave rise to an obviously inept mayor last month, is an indication of the possible chaos that can unfold when no single party governs. But rather than seeing unstable coalitions as a failure of our multi-party democracy, it should be seen as an opportunity for voters. The Joburg (& Tshwane, & Nelson Mandela Bay) spectacle presents new possibilities to get government to submit to our demands. Coalitions intensify party competition, and because parties are more desperate for votes, people’s demands are likely to get more attention. Democracy at work.
At MVC, we’re calling this strategic voting. But more on this in the next few months.